Monday 21 September 2015

Savvy spending with Think Money

My love of a good sale will come as no surprise to long time readers. The joy you feel when one day an item you have been stalking keeping an eye on has a line cast through the price and instead has a shiny new - reduced - price. When Think Money contacted me about their Basic Bank Account and challenged me to a spending challenge, I was more than happy to oblige in some sale shopping! The idea behind their campaign being to promote how being savvy with your money can help you budget and have the best of both worlds - paying for daily costs such as travel and bills, but at the same time being able to treat oneself to a little bit of luxury.

With life lately being all about house viewings, I knew I wanted to pick up some pieces for my future house. Wherever and whenever that house may be. And like the complete cliché that I am, I adore marble, rose gold, and copper. When H&M hosted a 48 hour sale, I was first in - virtual - line on their website. I picked up these marble plates and chopping boards, really impressed that these were dishwasher and microwave safe - something that isn't always the case with patterned crockery sadly. Lastly I picked up this copper tray as it is such a versatile piece. I haven't yet decided if it will be a food plate or a candle plate, but for now it's a food plate:

H&M marble plates£6.99 £4.89
H&M marble chopping boards9.99 £5.99
H&M copper tray£24.99 £17.49

These items saw their first run this weekend with a picnic type lunch of rosemary focaccia, edamame beans, black olives and mozzarella. Not sure if it's just me, but everything seems to taste much better when you eat off of beautiful plates!

What I learnt is that a little saving here and there really helps - particularly when saving for a house! I saved an incredible £23.90. And not only this, but these were in fact items I was on the brink of buying before full price - but this way, I got so much more for my money!

Have you picked up anything nice in the sales lately?

* Think Money very kindly provided me with budget for this spending challenge, but as ever, all words and opinions are my own!

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Autumn / winter staple // the shearling jacket

I'm sitting inside watching the rain pitter-patter against my window, and I think it's safe to say, that over the next few weeks months, going outside with bare arms and bare legs is about as likely as Boris Johnson changing his haircut. Although temperatures are noticeably becoming cooler, it's still early days for a full on winter coat. My most wanted item for this season? A shearling jacket.

Remember the aviator coat 'boom' of a few years back? You'd have been hard pressed to find a magazine that didn't feature one. Soft buttery leather with a hint of shearling around the sleeves and collar. As with most trends, I buckled and bought myself one. Although I stupidly succumbed to vanity sizing - where you order clothing in a smaller size even though that deep down you know that you require the size up - so my jacket wasn't a great fit. With this sort of jacket you need to size up - think layering in colder weather. If you can fit a couple of jumpers underneath with ease, then that's your jacket right there. You can read my guide on how to layer like a pro here.

My shearling jacket didn't fit the bill so I waved goodbye to it on eBay. I haven't found a replacement just yet, but for the time being I am finding plenty of inspiration on LookBook...

Will you be investing in a shearling jacket this season? 

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Flaming Grill Pubs review (and complaint)

On most blogs you will find positive reviews. Often reviews fuelled by a freebie of some kind - where the writer feels obliged to say nice things even if they don't fully like the product or experience. As much as I like writing reviews, the one thing I always strive for on here is honesty. If I am gifted an item or experience, I won't necessarily gush on about how amazing it is - unless I 100% think so myself. Because I have no desire to lie to you, or myself. And I write reviews of my own accord - most of my reviews are actually based on a a purchase I have made myself rather than a freebie or other incentive.

As you know, I am no stranger to a Flaming Grill Pub. I have eaten at them many times before and I can't fault their value for money - the sheer amount of food you get for your buck. I wrote a review back here praising their World Cup burgers. However after a more recent visit, I had a less good experience where I felt ripped off.

What attracted me on this particular visit was their limited edition wild burgers menu. I am no stranger to alternative / exotic meats like crocodile etc. Their kangaroo burger appealed the most to me (once I got the idea of a cute hopping critter out of my head!) as I've tried kangaroo meat before and really like it. I hadn't tried it in pulled form before though and BBQ sauce is always a winner.

Ostrich is ok, but isn't my favourite meat. However the baconnaise was a nice idea to boost quite a plain meat which could easily be compared to chicken!

Buffalo is nice, but can be quite fatty (depending on where you go for it!). The fiery sauce meant this wasn't the burger for me... but I did like the sound of the buffalo meatballs.

I ordered the kangaroo burger and paid up front (as is normal in a Flaming Grill Pub). After a considerate wait (it wasn't even that busy!) someone approached me and told me that they'd run out of pulled kangaroo. Deeply disappointing, but what can you do? The meal was already paid for. I just wish that I'd been told this earlier. They did however offer me pulled pork instead which I was grateful for. Eventually the burger comes out and sitting atop the burger, it's not even what I'd call pulled pork - it was a solid block of meat. Definitely not pulled. Traditionally pulled pork falls apart and is in a nice BBQ sauce -  but theirs was dry as a bone, and quite chewy / tough.

And the burger itself? Bland. It had zero taste. I've had kangaroo before and found it to be really tasty compared to the majorly over-cooked burger put in front of me. In fact their burgers were so burnt, I had to cut lots off and waste it.

I will spare you a picture of what I found next.... a foreign hair. And this definitely couldn't be one of mine as it was.... under my chips. Ew.

As this stage, I was pretty fed up. The pub did their obligatory check when they come over and ask: is everything ok? I told the guy: no, it was not. I mentioned that the burger was really overcooked, how it was in fact burnt (and everything else!) and he just says ok and disappears. He doesn't report it to the kitchen or to senior management. He doesn't apologise or have someone else come over to apologise. Appalling customer service and a massive waste of money. And they couldn't even play the busy card as an excuse - it was a Wednesday night and pretty damn quiet.

This was the night before we went away on holiday, wanting a good hearty burger. Instead we didn't get the burger we were after, were offered a substitute which wasn't prepared properly, and a burger itself that was so burnt we couldn't eat fully. And once I discovered that hair, it turned my stomach and I didn't want to eat another bite. And worse still..... Wednesday nights are their speciality burger night. Laughable.

I don't want any of my UK readers to experience the shoddy service I received. I normally wouldn't go this public with such a complaint, but it was dealt with so badly. We weren't offered any sort of goodwill gesture despite me taking it to head office. The Flaming Grill Pubs' motto is "licenced to grill". And they have that right. In this case, grilled within an inch of its life. This is one pub chain that isn't licensed to thrill. Avoid.