Thursday, 15 March 2018

There's no time like the present

Well this is embarrassing. I'd originally intended to publish this back in January but January slipped away. As did February. And now we're looking at March (how is it March already?!). Is March too late for a What I Got For Christmas post? Time of the year aside, these types of posts are one of my favourites to read because 1) they give me gift ideas for friends and family and 2) they expose me to lovely new products that I may not have heard of otherwise... so that considered, I thought I'd press on! If they are your cup of tea too, feel free to grab a hot drink and read on. As ever, I am incredibly grateful to all my friends and family and feel very lucky to have people in my life who know me so damn well!

Wax Lyrical candle 
How beautiful is this candle??! My home interiors theme is very much dark walls and metallic details through the use of gold, copper and rose gold - so this Wax Lyrical candle fits in like a dream! I don't know how to describe Midnight Jasmine as a scent, but it smells pretty luxurious and sophisticated.

How to be Parisian
Although I have French roots and I have lived and worked in France before, in a ideal world I would move to Paris in a heartbeat and become a fully fledged Parisian. But as funds won't allow for such a move, I can live vicariously through this book for now. And what a stunning book it is.

Jo Malone
I love a bit of Jo Malone and can we just take some time to appreciate how beautifully things are always wrapped? Layers of waxy black tissue paper and ribbons left, right and center (how wonderfully festive and "candy cane" is the red and white ribbon?!). My daily go to fragrance at the moment is this one which I find lasts the course of the day without fading.

Ibiza Classics
This was a surprise gift from M. as he knew that I really wanted to go to Pete Tong's Ibiza Classics tour last year. It's quite a difficult album to describe. Because of its very nature - club classics - it is very uplifting and makes you want to get up and dance. But at the same time, the Heritage Orchestra and classical aspect of it makes it very relaxing to listen to. I found out that this gift was purchased through Amazon here and one of the benefits of buying CDs through Amazon is that you also get the digital tracks saved onto your Amazon account in your music library. So when I'm at work and I don't have the CD on me, I can still listen to it for all those summer feels.

Hamper (not pictured)
One of my sisters gave us a food hamper which was mostly Italian themed and filled with pesto, pasta, gnocchi and the like. I haven't pictured it because it's looking pretty empty these days, having eaten 87% of the contents!. My other sister gave us further foodie treats like a chorizo making kit. Hampers are such a wonderful gift idea and I will treasure the basket afterwards.

Chocolat Charbonnel 
The additional foodie treats from my other sister included this hot chocolate which I have tried before and it is AMAZING. Forget hot chocolates with a chocolate powder basis. With this one you open the tin to discover lots of little chocolate flakes which melt into warm milk for a very luxurious and special take on hot chocolate. I first discovered this hot chocolate through Lakeland who still sell it here, but supermarkets like Waitrose and Sainsburys also stock it.

Electric toothbrush
Oh my word. No word of a lie, but this has been a revelation. Never have my teeth felt so clean. Whilst my teeth have never been particularly white, they are looking much better these days. I'm using the Oral-B Pro 2 2000N model (reduced to just £40 here!) and I wish I'd made the switch to electric years ago.

Next vouchers
Next is one of my favourite places to shop for homeware, so it was amazing that a few of my friends had the same idea! I'm currently on the hunt for a statement ceiling light and I already have my eye on this piece of art or a more traditional offering like this chandelier which would pop fantastically against my dark blue walls.

This was the biggest surprise from one of my best friends. She clearly took notes when she watched me moaning about my ancient - literally smoking - straighteners at my hen / bachelorette. Words cannot describe how wonderful it is to have a pair of straighteners that work properly, don't smoke like a chimney or smell funky.

She also bought me these hilarious mugs which are M's favourite things ever. He literally rolled around laughing when we opened them and then went all deadpan: I'M SAYING NOTHING.

Alice in Wonderland
How cute are these V&A Alice in Wonderland plates?! I love the presentation box they came in with the "pull me" handle.

The White Company
Winter just isn't winter without a White Company winter candle (FYI the Winter range is currently up to 30% off here!). With a scent composed of sweet cinnamon, cloves and a subtle hint of orange, nothing makes me feel more festive.

Malbec (not pictured)
My favourite red wine by far (although this Christmas I was introduced to Chateauneuf-du-Pape and that was equally dreamy). I hold my hands up, this has been consumed already (hence the lack of pics!). I love nothing more than a nice piece of steak with homemade chips, or a comforting stew or pasta dish, served with a glass of red. And Malbec fits the bill perfectly.

YSL touche eclat
One fun fact about me is that I am fiercely loyal to brands for products that I know work for me. Because if it ain't broke, why fix it? Having saying that, the YSL touche eclat is something that I have wanted to try for the longest time, so I was pretty excited about this one (separate review to follow!)

Rituals candle
I somehow discovered that one of my best friends is equally enthused about candles as I am - we've only known each since nursery school!! - when I unwrapped a candle from her and lost my shit because candles honestly excite me that much. I love discovering new candles and scents, and Ritual of Ayurveda (Indian rose & sweet almond) was one I hadn't tried before. I love an inspirational quote and the words on the side of the votive mean I will be re-using it for makeup brushes once the wick comes to an end. It's a beautifully deep and layered fragrance, and one that fills the room even before being lit (an impressive feat).

Have you tried any of these products before? Would you like to?

Are we friends on Instagram and Twitter yet? Come and say hi! 

Monday, 5 March 2018

The importance of adopting an evening routine and how to get a better night's sleep

Fun fact about me: I have always been a night owl. Often staying awake until the early hours of the morning, binge watching box-sets and films, I would then head to bed and lay there scrolling through social media. It was all too easy to say "just one more episode" or "just 10 more minutes" but it was never the case. I used to be up until the early hours of the morning and always prided myself on my ability to exist on next to nothing sleep. But the facts were I struggled with the mornings. Both with actually getting my ass out of bed and productivity once live and kicking. It started affecting both my writing and mental health. Blog posts didn't flow right and often sat there abandoned and unpublished. The novel I started writing lost momentum. Over time things worsened in that I could no longer physically sleep. I had royally fucked my sleeping pattern and my body could no longer comprehend what sleep was or how to do it.

And the worst thing? I was more than aware of the facts. I was well aware of all the various studies preaching the importance of avoiding screens - be it TV, laptop or phone - right before bed. That it can over-stimulate the mind, exacerbate any pre-existing depression or anxiety that you may have and have links to weight gain. Not necessarily because you're snacking right before bed (although I did this too) but more because the extra hours you spend awake muddles your body clock and affects how your body metabolises food at the end of a day.


A month or so ago I made the conscious decision to shake up my lifestyle and get into an evening routine. It started off as a trial but the changes were so undeniable that I haven't looked back since. I am now sleeping again. My weight is the best it's been for longer than I care to remember. I am a lot more productive during the day and my writing mojo is back. My love for blogging has been reignited and rather than simply picking up where I last left my novel, I got a whole new wave of inspiration for another book which is in the works. Turns out sleep is magical stuff.

Whilst I can't promise that my evening routine is an instant fix for things that may keep your mind buzzing at night  - be it a broken heart or friend dramas - it's a start. I was pretty cynical about having a routine and how long I'd keep it up for, but it's amazing how a little change here and there can transform your life. So here's a little snippet of a typical evening for me these days:


Winding down for bed starts about 8.45 sort of time when I start boiling the kettle for tea. I used to drink green tea late at night which wasn't ideal because caffeine. Also can we talk about how annoying it is getting comfy in bed and finding that bit of the pillow that is perfectly moulded to your face and then realising you have the bladder the size of a grapefruit which is pressing into you all like I won't let you sleeeeep. Don't eat or drink anything too late at night. Now that I drink earlier I find that when I get into bed I stay there and generally my sleep is deeper and of a better quality. Favourites in our house are chamomile tea and peppermint tea. Although occasionally I will have a decaffeinated green tea. Or a glass of cold milk which is refreshing as.


I try and finish watching TV by about 9.30. Since mixing up my evening routine and no longer watching episodes right before bed, I find myself falling asleep a lot quicker with a better quality of sleep. Gone are the days where my mind was buzzing after watching a particularly thinky documentary or watching something that ended on a massive cliffhanger where I have to wait a whole week to find out wtf happened. I can still watch these things but by watching them earlier in the evening, they are not the last thing on my mind at night. It gives me time to talk it out on Twitter or with my partner and get it all out of my system.


To be honest, candles have always heavily featured in my life. Even before I had a proper evening routine. Sitting in a dark room with just the glow of candlelight sets in the sleepy process (well for me anyway!). There's something about a flickering flame which is both mesmerising and relaxing.


Before I head into the bathroom for night time skin care and brushing those fangs, I do mindless things like clearing up, sorting the cat and loading the dishwasher. Dirty dishes in the here and now have no place in tomorrowland and I like to start every day afresh with nothing hanging over me. By doing these things, I am closing another chapter and acknowledging the end of another day.


Something I'm hoping to add to my evening routine eventually is a spot of yoga / meditation, but I'm still on the lookout for the perfect yoga mat. I used to go to yoga classes regularly but a breast cancer scare a couple of years ago and a biopsy meant certain moves were causing me pain whilst I was healing and I sadly had to stop classes. I really want to get back into it again but will be starting out at home (hence the search for a yoga mat). I always found that yoga helped ease out all the stresses and strains of the day that manifest themselves into your muscles, making it a very attractive prospect.


Before I get into bed I spritz the pillows with a pillow spray to help aid relaxation and sleep. I know that lavender isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I use lavender based pillow sprays the most and find these extra relaxing. I do try and keep it seasonal though and am always on the lookout for new pillow sprays and room sprays. I adore ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon tones around the festive period and more floral notes once it hits spring. Around this sort of time I will ensure that the alarm on my phone is set for the next day, put my phone down, and strictly not pick it up again that day.


Reading is one of the fundamental parts of my new evening routine. I hadn't got stuck into good book for ages because I was so overtired with my old evening regime that I would constantly be falling asleep on my morning commute. Often waking up on some poor soul's shoulder. There is nothing quite like escaping into a good book.

Lately I've been reading Driven by Dane Cobain and your usual detective story this is not. Although there is a police presence, this book centres about Leipfold, a private investigator. Whilst the police have to abide by police protocol, Leipfold and his apprentice computer whizz kid Maile do not. Leipfold was quite a mysterious character with an apparently colourful past which I would have liked to know more about, but as this is the first book in the Leipfold series, this is maybe something that will be touched upon later. Maile was my favourite character and I could relate to her a lot.
"A car strikes in the middle of the night and a young actress lies dead in the road. The police force thinks it’s an accident, but Maile and Leipfold aren’t so sure. Putting their differences aside, and bought together by a shared love of crosswords and busting bad guys, Maile and Leipfold investigate. But not all is as it seems, as the soon find out to their peril…"
Currently writing my own thriller novel myself, this is one my favourite genres to read. What I really liked about Driven was that I could visualise the characters and that they were plausible. If I can't visualise or get a feel for a character, I literally can't finish a book. I also liked the fact that Driven got straight into the action with the murder and how the momentum kept up. I lose interest quickly in novels where you are strung along for the whole book trying to find out a key piece of information. Driven constantly drip feeds you with new information so although I thought I'd sussed out the murderer early on, I was wrong!

I'm going to keep this short and sweet as I don't want to give too much away, but if you want to try Driven for yourself, there are Kindle friendly versions and paperback copies available here. I love receiving and passing on book recommendations, and Driven is well worth a read. The book itself is light weight and a good size to pop in your bag for the daily commute or holiday (I'm not a fan of heavy hardbacks!). As odd as it sounds, it was probably one the nicest feeling books I've read in a long time, what with it's matt cover and the super soft pages.

By incorporating reading into my evening routine, it offers a degree of escapism and to focus on something away from work and social media dramas before bed. Because seeing bloggers slag other bloggers off on Twitter right before bed is not the one.


After I reach a good point in my book, the bookmark goes in (usually an old Topshop label because I'm fancy) and lights go out. The old me was guilty of messing about on my phone in bed but now I make more of an effort to spend quality time with M.

Do you have an evening routine or problems sleeping?

Driven was sent to me for review purposes but all opinions and love of detective stories all my own! Driven is available as a digital copy or paperback here. I opted to review the paperback because I love the smell of new books (or is that just me?)  

Friday, 23 February 2018

Things to do in Gran Canaria instead of sitting by the pool all day

Here I am working in a tall office block in London with spectacular views of mist and fog and ALL THE RAIN. It's days like today where I try and remember what it feels like to have sun kissing at your skin (I tried to remember and failed. It's been too long). And with that, I reminisce about past holidays. One holiday that holds a very special place in my heart is Gran Canaria.

I'll be honest. I'm not someone who can sit on a sun lounger or a beach every day for 2 weeks. I can maybe do 2-3 days tops, but ultimately I live to explore and go on adventures. It sounds simple, but just the act of leaving your hotel can be therapeutic. You can be in the nicest hotel but with the daily struggle of DAWN WARS with the reserved sun loungers (who knew that a towel was legally binding??) and you just want a pool day but there is nowhere to sit and arghhh I'm meant to be on holiday y'know and the tension and knots that were unraveling from your shoulders are coming back in full force...  Sometimes it's nice to step outside and take a breather. So with that, comes my guide of things to do in Gran Canaria away from your resort.

Start slow, explore the local area first

I loved staying in Maspalomas and Meloneras. Seen as one of the more luxurious parts of Gran Canaria, it is a very well kept and nice looking area. Besides their beautiful stretch of sand (more on this below!) there is a great running path alongside the sea with beautiful greenery which reminded me of a mass invasion of succulents (pic below!). This is not solely a criticism of Gran Canaria as this happens everywhere, but resorts that have buffet meal options are usually very much tailored to tourists, meaning that you don't have always have the chance to try local specialties. For this very reason, I like leaving whichever hotel I'm staying in to scope out local food. I tried some lovely Canarian specialties including their local mojo sauce (oil, garlic, vinegar, red pepper and assortment of herbs and spices) drizzled across a potato based dish. There were also some lovely tapas places (I never want a huge meal when it's hot!). I love sizzling hot skillets of garlic prawns with a generous sprinkling of parsley.

Watch a film under the stars

Step outside your hotel one evening and head to Moonlight Cinema for a rooftop open air cinema experience. They usually have some fairly recent titles (you can find their latest film schedule here). Snuggle under the blankets provided, and order food and drinks from the comfort of your seat, by simply pressing a light on the arm of your chair. There is a full array of movie friendly snacks like pizza, nachos and popcorn. Drinks wise, there is an extensive alcohol list, but hot drinks are also available if you happen to visit on a cooler evening!

One for the playas

Playa of course being Spanish for beach. The beaches in Gran Canaria are well worth a visit. I stayed in Maspalomas which has the second longest beach in Gran Canaria. If you follow the sea around, you will reach the Playa del Ingles which is a busier, more touristy beach, but it has more in the way of water activities. It was amusing watching families bobbling along the waves on - I kid you not - a swan pedalo. Mid way between Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles is nature at its very best (revealed below!), so persevere and keep on walking because it's worth it.

And if you REALLY like water, how about a water park?

The Canary Islands are great for water parks and Gran Canaria is no exception. Aqualand is located in the south of the island within easy distance of Maspalomas. Of if you prefer to keep your feet on land, try a different sort of park at Palmitos Park  (more of a zoo).

THOSE sand dunes

If you go to Gran Canaria you HAVE to visit the Maspalomas sand dunes. One minute you're in the Canary islands, the next you are transported to the Sahara dessert. This amazing natural phenomena was formed during the last last ice age where the wind blew sand from the bottom of the ocean towards the coast of the island. Pretty incredible, huh? Word of advice: take plenty of water with you and a water spray if you have. There are food kiosks peppered along the way on the sand of the main beach, but drinks here are extortionately priced. And wear shoes if you go up the dunes. The sand is so much hotter here. I wore cut out sandals, took some quick pictures from the top of a dune and literally ran down from one into the sea to soak my feet! Another way of seeing the sand dunes is by camel safari (you can book this up here) or for adrenaline junkies, a 4x4 tour. However you choose to navigate the dunes, I really recommend you pay them a visit for an out-of-this-world experience.

Visit Little Italy AKA Puerto Mogan

Located in the south of Gran Canaria, Mogan is a beautiful sun dappled coastal town full of white fronted houses with pops of pink from numerous flowers and window boxes, and narrow winding streets made for exploring. Travel guides quote Mogan as a taste of Italy and say that is is Venetian inspired. I would have to agree. As well as beautiful streets, a booming local market, boats and yachts galore and a beach, Mogan have excursions like their yellow submarine tour. The day I went, I climbed to the top of the hill for outstanding views. Looking through my Gran Canaria photos, I don't have any from my day in Mogan which says a lot. Generally when I am in total awe of how wonderful a place is, I look with my eyes not a camera. But if you want a sneak peek of beautiful Puerto Mogan, there are some pictures here. It was really refreshing to be away from the tourist heavy parts of Gran Canaria and to find an idyllic slice of paradise.

Visit Las Palmas

One year I was royally ripped off by a day excursion to Las Palmas. Hoping for some culture and to actually visit Las Palmas, instead this excursion turned out to be €50 to be driven in a coach to a shopping centre and given some time to spend even more money before being taken back to the hotel later than day. And on the way there "highlights" were pointed to us out of the window like a new shopping centre that was being built that would have a Primark. I mean honestly. So if your hotel offers you a  Las Palmas excursion, double check the small print and make sure it's not this shopping one! The real Las Palmas is beautiful (pics here!) and is well worth a visit. The shopping centre (Centro Comercial Las Arenas) I spoke of is decent and has some great shops (most up-to-date list here) with firm favourites like Mango and Zara (I found Zara items from back home sold at much lower prices!). I also sniffed out a McDonalds and stopped for a super refreshing smoothie. But my advice: make your own way to Las Palmas. In Maspalomas there is a bus stop where you can take a bus (€6 rather than €50!) to the shopping centre and back.

Museo Elder de la Ciencia y la Tecnologia

In spite of the disappointment from THAT "excursion", every cloud has a silver lining. Without going on that awful €50 excursion, I never would have discovered Museo Elder de la Ciencia y la Tecnologia (essentially a science and technology museum) which was just opposite the shopping centre. Easily reached by bus ((€6 rather than the €60 you would need to shell out for a taxi), the museum contains something for everyone and is perfect for those of all ages. I loved how interactive and immersive an experience it was. I'm not sure if and how often the exhibits are refreshed, but when I visited I made rainbows, had all the fun with a green screen and concealed myself into the Gran Canarian landscape.

Have you ever been to Gran Canaria? 

Maspalomas is picturesque and serene and has a more of luxury feel to the resorts, shops and local area. But in this case don't read 'luxe' as expensive. Maspalomas does affordable luxury and gets the balance right. Case in point of how beautiful some of the hotels are...

If you are more of social butterfly, Playa del Ingles is buzzing with nightlife and I would compare this more to Playa de las Americas in Tenerife.

Regardless of where you go, Gran Canaria as a holiday destination isn't expensive and I have always had the best time there without having to shell out a fortune and without having to live on beans on toast for months afterwards. You can travel to Gran Canaria from a little as £149 per person and some examples of good Gran Canaria holiday packages can be found here. I love the look of the Dunas Mirador Maspalomas which has stylish and light and airy bedrooms and also Marina Bayview which has a Santorini feel about it and the most incredible views.

I have only scratched the surface of what there is to see and do in Gran Canaria and I can't wait to go back again one day so I can add to this travel guide. I really recommend going off the beaten track, exploring nearby villages and of course the Maspalomas sand dunes!

Post written in collaboration with Holiday Gems but as ever, all content and opinions are my own

Friday, 9 February 2018

Simple life hacks to help make a house a home

What you wear and how you present yourself can say a lot about you, and this same logic can extend through to your home. It doesn't matter if you own your home or rent it, it's a given that you want to come home at the end of a long day to a piece of you - rather than feeling like an intruder in your own home. Owning your property outright means you can delve straight into all manner of home improvements, whereas if you have a landlord or someone else to answer to, there may be restrictions in place preventing you from being able to rip out existing built-in units / flooring, or from painting over those dastardly yellow tinged magnolia walls. If you are in student digs, renting, or anywhere else that holds decorating restrictions, there are small changes that you can make here and there to make your space feel more like your own. And the good news? None of these have to cost the earth.

Throws and soft furnishings

A godsend if you have secondhand / inherited furniture that isn't to your taste. Or if you have pets that shred ALL THE FUR (I'm looking at you, Bailey). I moved into my - unfurnished - house as a first time buyer with ALL THE SHOES but not really anything useful i.e. furniture. Fortunately I acquired an entire living room set from family who simply fancied a change. All of these items were virtually new and in immaculate condition, and as thankful as I was to actually have chairs right from the word go and not be sitting on the floor, the fact still remains that a beige sofa isn't very... me. It's a bitch to keep clean and beige chairs in a room with magnolia walls isn't the one. Future me dreams of replacing them with a grey L shaped sofa or a tan leather affair, but for the time being they can be easily transformed by adding layers of throws and soft furnishings like cushions. What was once a beige cat furr magnet is now covered with a black and white geometric pattern throw (as seen later in this post!) which I'm pretty certain only cost me £5 or less from Primark. For colder evenings, I add extra textures like a rust coloured chunky knit which contrasts nicely against the monochrome geometric fleecy throw. Sheepskin rugs are really versatile as they can be draped on a chair or a bed - not just the floor. Whilst there are pricier options out there, you can also get sheepskin rugs from as little as £10 from IKEA. I also really love those chunky knit blankets knitted with the humongous knitting needles. But no matter what you opt for remember this: don't see it as hiding a piece of unloved furniture - see it more as transforming a piece and making it more you.

Prints & typography

I love an inspiration quote. So a bland looking magnolia wall transformed into a gallery wall of framed motivation quotes... count me in! Choose quotes and artwork that is personal and means something to you. If your accommodation prevents you from nailing things to the wall, choose wall friendly options like command strips or propping frames up on a shelf (I have my print of M, the kittens and I freestanding... as seen here!). I know from my uni accommodation days that blu tack is not the one (chipped paint on the walls meant I lost a chunk of my deposit. Sad times). Whilst you can buy readily framed quotes online, why not create your own for something extra personal? Frames aren't expensive (I bought some from Asda for less than £1 each for my wedding table plan) and can be filled with either handwritten quotes (particularly if you are a calligraphy whizz kid!) or something typed and then printed off from the computer. I also like saving pages from magazines and postcards from Paperchase - both of which also frame well.


I don’t know about you, but I love having flowers in the house. They are a great way of incorporating some colour into your life if a) you don't have a garden or b) you have decorating restrictions where you live. Plus they make the house smell lovely, don't they?

The other day I had a surprise delivery from Prestige Flowers who very kindly sent me one of their Lomond bouquets from their luxury range. I have dark inky blue walls in the lounge and I find that bright whites or bright colours like hot pink can look sensational against darker walls. So Prestige were spot on with their colour choice! An arrangement of brightly coloured blooms can help lift a dark room that doesn't see a lot of light (because not all of us are fortunate enough to be living somewhere with huge bay windows!)

I love the contrast of the greens (aren't the shamrock blooms beautiful?) against the pinks. The pinks in particular make a bouquet like this the perfect choice for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day (Prestige do some lovely other Mother's Day bouquets here!). Although to be honest, flowers like these would make me happy all year round! The arrangement filled the house with a beautiful fresh scent and gave the house a spring essence despite the fact it was snowing / sleeting / raining outside. I'm so ready for Spring!

The black gift bag that came with it was a nice touch and would be a lovely way of presenting the flowers if you were invited for dinner somewhere, or to welcome friends into a new home. I liked the high gloss wrapping (also black) and even the box it arrived in was pretty. I'm all too used to boring brown boxes (I'm STILL unpacking from moving house...) and I really liked the chic black and white design. It shows extra attention to detail and pride of presentation at every stage - not just with the flowers themselves.

I was impressed with the condition they arrived in (it can sometimes be a bit hit and miss when flowers are sent by courier) and how they thrived in the days that followed. One thing I did notice unlike other flowers I have had before, is that they drank water like it was going out of fashion. So my advice would be to keep an eye on the water level and keep it frequently topped up so you get a good long use out of your flowers.

Prestige also offer add on items like balloons, fruit baskets, prosecco and so on. They also very kindly sent me Charlie the bear (who for the record Bailey absolutely adores!), a vase, and a box of chocolates - all of which were lovely added touches. I usually avoid the fruity chocolates in chocolate boxes as I can find them a little artificial tasting (also if I wanted fruit, I'd have fruit). But I have to say, the fruity ones I tried were the first I have liked and enjoyed. I think this was because they had a higher chocolate to fruit ratio which I prefer. How cute is the chocolate crown?

So with that, a flower summary: fill your home with fresh flowers and potted plants (pink / purple orchids are a personal favourite of mine!) for an instant injection of colour. Green heavy arrangements can really help lift a neutral space dressed in white or magnolia. Flowers are a great life hack if your living space is one that you don't have permission to paint or make any major changes to, and can really make a house feel more like a home.


When I first moved into my house, there was a stale smell in the lounge which I couldn't get rid of. I took down and washed the curtains, I hired a Rug Doctor and deep cleaned the carpets, and I washed the walls down with sugar soap. None of these things helped. Then enter the humble candle. Once my living room was a little more put together (read: actually had furniture), I brought out my candles. Candles add a signature scent to your living space rather than eau de previous tenant. And yes, that stale smell in my living room is now a thing of the past (hooray). I don't know about you, but candles instantly make me feel more relaxed. There is something very soothing about watching episodes and films by candlelight. Candles don't have to be expensive, so can be a fairly low cost way of transforming your home. I love Aldi's candles which are a spookily accurate dupe for the Jo Malone candles, but at a fraction of the price. Primark also do some great options.

A huge thank you to Prestige for the flowers (aren't they gorgeous?), the chocolates and Charlie. Prestige have flowers for as little as £19.99 and offer next day delivery (check the site here for order deadlines), weekend delivery, and free chocolates with selected bouquets. I hadn't heard of Prestige before, but was really impressed with the flowers I received and how they were presented and will definitely be ordering from them again in the future!

What are your favourite ways of making your home feel more homely?

Friday, 26 January 2018

My experience of the Ecstatic Meal from MEATliquor and Deliveroo

The serious foodies amongst you may have heard about the MEATliquor one day only offer: a Dead Hippie burger, hash browns, drink and toy presented in a happy meal very familiar looking box for a mere £2.69. That's right. £2.69. Considering the Dead Hippie burger is £9 alone, and that everything all in is reportedly saving you just over £11 overall... it's a very tempting offer. As for the small print...this offer is only available for delivery via Deliveroo and supposedly only from the Kings Cross branch (or so I heard)

This feature was originally meant as a review. A review of my first experience of using Deliveroo and more importantly, a review of exciting new food  that I was looking forward to. But alas, the Ecstatic Meal and I were not to be. 

The Deliveroo website experience

It's a nice looking website, I give you that. I liked the fact that I could look around without having to sign up straight away (a refreshing change these days). The website itself was easy to use. I typed in my work postcode, it located me fairly quickly, and offered me food from all local restaurants within an acceptable delivery radius. Faced with an overwhelming choice of food options, I filtered out by burgers specifically, located MEATliquor, and clicked through to choose my food.

Despite publicity surrounding the event claiming that the Ecstatic Meal would be on the website from a set time, I checked and checked and checked... and it wasn't there. I went to social media and noticed that other people were having the same issue. I refreshed the page but still no luck. 

I then left the Deliveroo site and re-opened it. Still nothing. In fact this time it was even worse. At this stage, MEATliquor was no longer coming up in the listings. 

With Deliveroo you can choose an allocated time frame in which to have your food delivered. Either a specific time slot or "ASAP". I played around with some time slots, and still MEATliquor was failing to come up in the list of results. Which to me suggested a technical error on the site - perhaps due to excessive traffic and demand - more than anything. 

Eventually I found a time slot that seemed to suit MEATliquor, and to my delight, I clicked through to find the Ecstatic Meal was now being offered as an option. I'd like to point out that at this stage, the Deliveroo website was a delight to use. I selected my food choice, my time slot and details, and at no point was the site lagging or slow to use. Payment went through and my order was placed. I had a order confirmation message on-screen and received a tracking link so I could track the food via my mobile. SUCCESS! 

Delivery of the food

What delivery? This, ladies and gentlemen, is where I'm afraid it all went tits up. Here I was at work, replying to emails, tapping away on my keyboard, happy that it was Friday and even happier that this particular Friday would yield a burger. At this point my scheduled food was less than an hour away from delivery, and I got a text. This text.

In sheer panic, I went back to my order screen on the Deliveroo website, and my wahey success order confirmation message had been replaced with the following:

I also had an email telling me exactly the same thing as the text and the onscreen slert. Three times lucky and all that. 

I was absolutely furious.

Look, I understand that they were busy. I recognise that it was a ridiculously generous offer and that it was always going to be a struggle to get one of these high demand food boxes. However what I don't condone is the fact that I placed an order, my order was accepted, and then I receive a cancellation message right before lunch. If it had been rejected shortly after placing the order, that's one thing. But the fact that I was in there, I was very much in the queue, and suddenly booted out... It was a bit of a smack in the face. And very poorly done. If a restaurant is too busy, they should stop taking orders completely and go offline from the Deliveroo system for a bit. 

I think what angered me the most was the wording on the text they sent. "We would be delighted if you would consider ordering from one of out other restaurants". After such a schlep on the Deliveroo website, why would I go through all that again?? I said no to food delivery and delivery fees, and left my office seeking a burger from a competitor. Because once I have it in my mind that I want a burger, annoyingly nothing else will satiate that desire. 


Whilst this whole experience was great for both MEATliquor and Deliveroo and gave them plenty of publicity and hype, I honestly don't think one day gimmicks like these are worth it. The poor experience I had on the Deliveroo site doesn't encourage me to use it ever again. And I won't be the only one. Today there would have been a fair share of people like myself who had never used Deliveroo before and logged on for the first time lured in by this insanely good offer, but were left disappointed. For me personally, the bad experience I had today ruins my perception of both MEATliquor and Deliveroo and I won't rush to use either service again in the future. 

The whole thing was poorly executed. The fact that the product was only available for delivery through Deliveroo was a rookie mistake. Websites get flooded with traffic and can go down. There were a fair share of tehcnical issues today whereby MEATliquor dropped off the website completely or I couldn't find the offer on the site. Even when I changed my delivery time to something stupid and off peak after the lunch time rush. New initiatives are great, but only implement them if you have a website that can handle it. Otherwise you are doing yourself more harm than good. 

I also think the £2.69 pricing point was another reason for this failing. Whilst I will never complain about too-good-to-be-true pricing and incredible savings, the lower you go, the biggest the hype. The overall meal was thought to be worth £11 ish give or take. Let's be real here, people still would have gone crazy if MEATliquor had offered 50% off. But £2.69 for lunch in the city of the London, a place where a simple non fancy sandwich can cost over £5... people were always going to go nuts (myself included).

I followed the situation on social media and it sounded like lots of other people were in my figurative boat with the offer not appearing on the website and orders not going through properly. In fact, I have yet to hear a success story of someone who actually managed to get one of these Ecstatic Meals. Was it all one big publicity stunt with a small, limited number of the boxes to get people talking about the brand? 

From a marketing point of view, it's a great time for other competitor burger chains to step up. Imagine the social media... "Didn't get your mitts on a Ecstatic Meal? Didn't get your burger fix? We will sort you out!" And maybe an added incentive like a voucher offering diners 25% off today and this weekend. That would be very savvy marketing indeed. Because lots of us are now faced with an insatiable burger craving where only a burger will do. And let's be honest here, London is a great hub for finding a decent burger. But this time I won't be heading to MEATliquor. 

Did you manage to get your hands on a MEATliquor Ecstatic Meal? Success stories would be refreshing and great to hear!

Product imagery source: Eater London