Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Gift guide // something special for the girl boss in your life

Everyone has that scruffy but highly comfortable pair of tracksuit bottoms and / or hoody that you wear for lounging around the house in. The ones you'd rather the postman didn't see you in but they do because a little thing called Life loves to embarrass you. The sorts of things you should throw out but you can't bring yourself to because OH SO COMFORTABLE. In today's gift guide, I am proposing the gift of all the gifts for your favourite girls: the SAVE YO' ASS PYJAMAS.

They're sleek. They're luxurious. They're presentable. They are not greying, bunching in an unflattering way on your person, or falling apart. So throw out your pair of past it lounge pants / trousers, and get yourself a pair of these bad boys!

Night dress here // image source: Nightire

Muted yellow set available as shorts, a trouser set or dress // image source: Nightire

WHY THESE PYJAMAS?  

Because they're perfect for:

  • answering the door to the postman / courier with YET ANOTHER ASOS PARCEL
  • girly sleepovers
  • sleepovers of the adult variety
  • at home yoga and meditation because THEY LOOSE AND COMFY AS
  • Trips away
  • Hen party over-nighters
  • Your wedding day (I wish I had ordered these for my bridesmaids!)
  • Christmas morning / other family gatherings where you want to look put together
  • Nipping to the shops
  • Working from home
  • New Year, New you
  • Answering the door to Just Eat / Deliveroo / Uber Eats

The possibilities are endless. I'd even leave the house in one of the tops over a pair of jeans as the prints really are that pretty. And they're not too "pyjama" if you catch my drift.

TELL ME MORE

The brand in question is Nightire - which I'm guessing is a play on words between "night" and "attire" (clever).  Launched about a year ago, all designs are the genius of founder Nina Clark and aren't they beautiful? Nightire is all about striving towards a good night's sleep. The pyjamas are made of 100% organic bamboo so they're soft to the touch and temperature regulating, all to help encourage a great night's sleep. All sets allegedly have a loose, comfortable fit without any pesky straps, buttons or elastics to dig into you whilst you're sleeping / lounging around eating pizza under blankets on the sofa.

The collection is perfect for all tastes with a trio of designs to choose from. Candy pink stripes for girly girls, muted yellows for those who like to be different, and a stand out bold blue print. All three designs are available as shorts, trouser sets or night dresses. And how cute is this tee?!

Yellow set / pink set / blue set // image source: Nightire

Night dress here // image source: Nightire

If you need a last minute gift idea for the girl boss (or girl bosses!) in your life, you know where to go. Nightire makes for the perfect Christmas or birthday gift as I've heard that the boxes are bespoke and really cute (reportedly there is a sneak peak window so your favourite ladies can catch a glimpse of what you've treated them to!). Nightire also offer a monogramming service - great for hen parties, weddings or simply creating a personalised touch for a loved one.

HOW DO I GET MY MITTS ON ONE?

If you fancy having a browse for either yourself or your favourite ladies, head on over to the website here or head over to their Instagram here for non model pics and a true sense of fit.

HOW MUCH IS SHIPPING?

There is free standard UK shipping which takes roughly 3-5 working days (just about enough time for Christmas if you hurry!) but if you need your items quicker, there is an express delivery option. Nightire also ship to the US, Europe and several other destinations (full list and costs can be found here).

DISCOUNT CODE

'Tis the season of goodwill so I couldn't end this piece without a discount code could I? There is currently 20% off all nightdresses so enter promo code HOLIDAZE here for 20% off . But hurry, offer only available until Boxing Day!

#HumansInPyjamas

Friday, 14 December 2018

An evening with Friuli Venezia Giulia tourism

Who, you ask? I wasn't sure myself until recently! Friuli Venezia Giulia is an Italian region in the North East of Italy which borders Austria, Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea. And isn't she a beauty?

Image credit for both of the above: Luciano Gaudenzio

How was I introduced to Friuli Venezia Giulia, you ask? Well I was invited back to the Crystal in London where I was with Rome Tourism last year (all the gossip can be found here), but this time it was with Friuli Venezia Giulia tourism.  

Speaking to us was Tatjana Familio from the Friuli Venezia Giulia press office. She spoke of the region being somewhat of a mysterious one as not many people have heard of it, let alone been there (a minimal shower of hands at the press evening confirmed this fact). And from the presentation, Friuli Venezia Giulia seems to have it it all. Palatial buildings. UNESCO heritage sites aplenty. Scenic cycling and walking routes. Beaches. Skiing and a wealth of other winter sports. Celebrated food and wine tours. Mountains. Mirror shine lakes and waters. I've never been to Austria or Slovenia before, but the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia definitely has that sort of air about it. In the video footage shared with us, there was an incredible sense of peace and I'm not surprised that many renowned writers found their inspiration in this beautiful region.

 Image credit: Marco Milani

Image credit: Gianluca Baronchelli 

At the front of the room was a cooking station which looked very promising indeed. A cooking demonstration of a celebrated local dish sounded great. But getting to taste it afterwards? Even better!


The dish cooked for us was Frico Friulano - a dish containing cheese, onions and potato. It's hard to compare it to anything else, but it was a deliciously flavorsome dish and what can only be described as soul food. Eating this dish made me ridiculously happy and I could have easily polished off several more plates of it (I have no shame). Apparently the key to a great Frico Friulano is the cheese used. You can't use any old cheese. You need Montasio sourced from - you've guessed it - Friuli Venezia Giulia - something that I'm currently trying to track down so I can make this dish at home. If you ever go to Friuli Venezia Giulia, make sure you seek out Frico Friulano!


It was beautifully paired with white and sparkling wines from the region, which were sweet without being too sweet. Lovely light wines like these would lend themselves well to salads and light pasta dishes.


Our appetite well and truly whet, we were invited downstairs and sat down to dinner, our plates laden with pasta, meats, smoked fish, gnocchi, cheese and salads. The Italians certainly know how to do food well.


The pork belly was a particularly popular choice that evening and understandably so. It was beautifully soft and melted in the mouth. And the pumpkin and sage salad was something that I could eat all day every day.


Thank you to Friuli Venezia Giulia tourism and WTM for the invite and for a lovely evening. I loved the cooking demonstration aspect of the evening as this was something new that we didn't experience at last year's event. I'm so happy that Friuli Venezia Giulia is on my radar now, and I'm already planning a visit (mostly for another plate of that delicious Frico Friulano!). If you have ever been to Friuli Venezia Giulia, please do recommend hotels to me in the comments below!

Friday, 7 December 2018

Homeware and interiors inspired by The Circle

What is The Circle you ask? The Circle was first broadcast in the UK this year. The concept? A social experiment of sorts. Kind of like how Big Brother started out back in the day. Except instead of living and interacting with a group of strangers, you are isolated to your own apartment in a tower block (which FYI is where all the other contestants are also living in isolation). Instead of interacting in person, everyone interacts via The Circle, a custom build social network slash chatroom. The goal? To make it through to the end in order to be in the running for the £50,000 cash prize. Some contestants were honest about themselves, whereas others created a fake persona and went down the Catfish route, hiding some or all aspects of the real them. Because the scary thing is, when talking to someone online, you just don't know who you are talking to. And this series highlighted just how easy this is to do.

Image credit: C4 // as found here

It was an interesting concept and the ads pre-launch drew me in. I gave it a try and was HOOKED. Given its success (there are rumors of an international version of the show in the works and a possible Netflix acquisition), I can only imagine it will be back.

When you see it on TV, the task at hand looks easy. Staying rent free in a nice looking apartment (rumored to be located in Hayes, West London), time off from work, with food and everything you need provided. However as amazing as it looked (I would love to appear on a future series!), I can't begin to understand how it must feel to be cut off from your friends and family, the world itself (well the news) and generally from any in-person social interaction. The first few days are probably a novelty (and peaceful!), but if you're stuck in that same apartment from the start of the series right through to the end.... I imagine it must get quite lonely. However that's something you'd only really know if you did the experience yourself.

If I'm being entirely honest, one of the reasons why I got hooked on the show in the first place was through ogling the interior design, which was the genius of film production designer Sally Lock. Each apartment had its own unique design scheme. I'm talking graphic print wallpaper, soft pinks, florals, statement neon bright furniture and exposed brick walls.

Image credit: C4 // as found here

Image credit: C4 // as found here

Image credit: C4 // as found here

Image credit: C4 // as found here

Image credit: C4 // as found here

Image credit: C4 // as found here

What was your favourite apartment? As much as I loved all the brick effect walls, I loved the apartment Jennifer stayed in with the marble walls and bright yellow accent sofa.

Image source: both images found here

And if you watched The Circle and loved the interiors as much as I did, here's a Circle inspired homeware and interiors wish list (I literally want all the wallpaper!)

GET THE LOOK

Statement chair here // Who else loves this blue vase? // Cushions: greige pattern & silver geometric 
Moon wall art here // Every Circle contestant needs a light box ! // Dreamy gold vase here
And last but by no means least, beautiful range of wallpapers can be found here 

I won't spoil the series one outcome in case there's anyone who is still working their way through it (do pursue it right through to the end as the final was insane!). Is it comparable to anything else airing at the moment, you ask? I would say that The Circle is best described as Big Brother meets Catfish, with a touch of Black Mirror. It's good easy viewing with plenty of hilarious and awkward moments. You can catch series one of The Circle here. Here's hoping there's a second series!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Things to do in London // Jack the Ripper London walking tour

I never cease to be amazed by London and all that it can offer. With a wealth of things to see and do, the possibilities are endless. The other evening I was invited along to a special media-only walking tour based on Jack the Ripper and stood outside Whitechapel Art Gallery - next to exit three of Aldgate East Tube Station - ready for 7.30pm. We were due to visit each of the crime scenes with an expert Ripperologist (try saying that after a few drinks!) as our guide. Other than giving my legs a much needed stretch (much needed when you work 9-5 in an office all week long!), we were to learn all about the potential suspects and clues missed by the police,

We started off just around the corner from our meeting point, heading through an alleyway. This first stop really set off how it felt in Victorian London at the time, where a substantial proportion of the population were homeless and sleeping on the streets. Looking around at the current street lighting, it's hard to imagine how dark it used to be on the streets with the street lamps barely emitting any light (think like the glow from your refrigerator when coming downstairs in dark for a midnight snack with the lights off). The first stop was conveniently located as it means that if you are running late for the tour, you have an additional 10 minutes to get there and join the tour. Once the tour leaves the first stop, you are unable to catch up with it later. If you are ever running late or cannot make your slot, do get in touch with the Jack the Ripper walking tour team ASAP as they are really flexible with getting you re-booked in for another time so you don't miss out (see here for full FAQs).

We visited each crime scene of where the victims were found and our tour guide used Rippervision (essentially a projector) which allowed us to see how the buildings and streets we were standing in front of looked like in 1888 (some of the changes are mind blowing!). We even got to see pictures of the state the victims were in, both as they were found and in the morgue (those with a queasy disposition feel free to look away!)


Fun fact: did you know that Jack the Ripper wasn't always known as such? This very letter in red ink was the first time "Jack the Ripper" came about. Previous to this, the East London killings were referred to as the work of a "Leather Apron".


I don't want to give too much away as this was a really fascinating tour and the surprise elements are what make it. But let me tell you this now: the conspiracy theories about who the killer could have been are insanely interesting (did you know that Jack the Ripper was never identified?)

The tour takes approximately 1hr 45 mins and runs every day at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm. It's especially effective since the clocks have gone back and now that it's getting darker earlier!

To find out more and for ticket availability, visit https://thejacktherippertour.com/

Thursday, 8 November 2018

How to go to the zoo for less than £1

I love a day out but days out can be expensive. Especially the zoo. Every time I go I am shocked by how much they are asking for. Recently I found a life hack that enabled me to visit the zoo for just 45p (or 90p for two people) rather than the £25 entrance fee I'd normally have to pay. How you ask? Read on to find out!


The life hack in question was using Tesco's Clubcard Voucher exchange here. If you shop at Tesco regularly, make sure you sign up for a Tesco Clubcard here to collect points on every shop. Because trust me, they do add up. I belong to several loyalty cards schemes and Tesco's Clubcard is up there as one of the best.

Years back I bought one of my first iPhones through Tesco and the points I earned were INSANE. From that one purchase, I made so many amazing memories with days out, travels, dinner dates and so on (and obviously had the phone's camera to capture it all with!) Nowadays I have a Tesco credit card meaning I can build up my Tesco points even when I'm shopping in other stores outside of Tesco. Recently I bought a new sofa from DFS here so I'm due a massive payout!

HOW TO USE TESCO CLUBCARD VOUCHER EXCHANGE

Log into your Clubcard account here and click "spend vouchers"

You will then be presented with a list of categories that - at the time of writing this -  include "travel", "eating out", "fun" "home & essentials" and "lifestyle".



For fun days out, click "fun" to find further categories to choose from:



In my case, I opted for "days out" where you can choose from a vast selection of theme parks, castles and wildlife parks. To refine your results, select by "category" and / or "region".




We wanted to visit a zoo, but not London Zoo as we've done that one a lot and fancied a change. We managed to find a suitable zoo that wasn't too far away.


CONVERT YOUR VOUCHERS

At the time of writing this, the offer on the Tesco website was that 50p of Tesco vouchers translated to £1.50 in credit to spend towards your zoo ticket. So if you need £60 to cover your family ticket to the zoo, you would need to convert £20 in Tesco vouchers.

It's always worth checking the conversion rates on the Tesco Clubcard website as recently they changed some of the offers from tripling the worth of Tesco vouchers to doubling them. I think I got in there just before the changeover, but the vouchers we converted meant that we only had to pay 90p at the gate - bargain!

THE ZOO IN QUESTION

I hadn't been to Whipsnade Zoo since I was little, and I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of space they had there. With some zoos, it can almost feel a little claustrophobic and like the animals don't have adequately sized enclosures. Located near Dunstable in Bedfordshire, at Whipsnade the enclosures were generously sized and it didn't feel like the animals were as confined as some other zoos. The brown bears enclosure was huge, and the elephant paddock was something else.

WHIPSNADE PARKING

If you ever visit Whipsnade, wear sensible walking shoes and prepare for a lot of walking! For the elderly or less able, Whipsnade does offer parking spaces around the zoo, however you do have to pay for this privilege. This is currently £25. Otherwise parking is free if you park outside the zoo. It's not a long walk to the entrance, but it's advisable to get there early so you're not parked further away in the overflow (field!)

WHIPSNADE FOOD OPTIONS

As with any other tourist hot-spot. extras like ice creams were extortionately priced. I don't think I've ever spent so much on ice cream.. but then we made the error of going on one of the hottest days of the year so far.


There were plenty of food options, including River Cottage in the most incredible setting. Food here was a little pricier and nothing took our fancy that day (I would love to try this next time though!) Instead we sat in the family restaurant and ordered chips as it was far too hot to eat anything more.


The cafe was very tech forward and you ordered your food on a tablet.


Just select what type of refreshment you are after / your meal choice


Saying that, I would be tempted to pack a picnic next time because look at these views


HIGHLIGHTS

Being shadowed by these guys. They followed me every direction I walked. Maybe I look like the keeper who feeds them?


Seeing the brown bears go for a dip. One of them was even smiling


These guys clowning about. And how nice is their backdrop?!


Seeing every day people being allowed to feed the giraffes. I've never been so up close to one before


A really nice butterfly house that one of Mr Curiouser and Curiouser's colleagues recommended to us. The house itself is a lot bigger than the London Zoo one, so feels less claustrophobic - however it is every bit as hot. We were there on one of the hottest days of the year, so didn't spend too long in there


My favourites.... ELEPHANTS. I love how they look like they're smiling


The monkeys frolicking in the sun


Birds of prey in flight. So majestic.


And finally this guy who looks like how I feel on Mondays


Next time you plan a day out - whether it's to Whipsnade zoo, another zoo or somewhere else entirely - do log into your Tesco account and see whether you can convert up vouchers for it. And if you don't have a Tesco clubcard, then what are you waiting for?! Get collecting those points!

Apologies in advance to all my international readers for a UK specific offer / life hack - hopefully the lifestyle day-at-the-zoo types pics are enough to pique your interest!