Thursday, 31 August 2017

Red Door, Leeds

Red Door Leeds
Red Door, Leeds

The Leeds bar scene is absolutely killing it at the moment and the opening of Red Door has just stepped it up a notch. I’m starting to think that Leeds is becoming the best in the north for cool bars – even better than the Northern Quarter in Manchester – as it feels like every other week there’s somewhere new and exciting opening their doors. Red Door is the latest bar to open up at the top of Call Lane and despite being part of a group (they also have bars in Chester and Liverpool), this feels like an independent.

Red Door, Leeds

The location is slightly hidden away as it’s off Call Lane, down the alleyway next to Norman’s and if you’re familiar with Leeds, it’s where Hirst’s Yard used to be. It was pretty clear from the moment we walked in that it’s one of those places that will attract regulars as the drinks offers are downright dangerous for midweek drinks, with a membership card. For me, I’m so down with the £5 cocktail offer as the standard 241 you’ll get in a lot of bars as most of the time you have to get two of the same drink and you get stuck in rounds. But that’s totally not the case in Red Door so I’m down with that.

Red Door, Leeds

Red Door, Leeds

Red Door, Leeds

Speaking of cocktails, obviously I was there to ahem, drink my way through the menu, on their press night and I must admit, I was impressed. In the quirky, insta-friendly cocktail game, there are a lot of strong contenders in Leeds, but what’s a cocktail if you’re not drinking it out of a glass skull or a disco ball? I mean... really. Also, glittery prosecco. We all need that Boomerang, am I right? My personal fave was the Cointreau Fizz which is Cointreau with raspberry, passionfruit and lime, served up in the cutest little plastic bottle. There’s also the Bakewell Sour which tastes just like a Bakewell tart and comes with a piece of it on the top plus the Mrs Jones which is gin, elderflower, Aperol and fresh pink grapefruit. There are some absolute taste sensations going on in this bar, plus it’s a dream for the old ‘gram as it’s brick wall central. What more could you ask for?

Red Door, Leeds

Red Door, Leeds

You might be wondering what food this establishment has on offer and I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed. They serve Pot Noodles. Apparently they needed to serve something and what more could you want than a quick, tasty snack without any washing up? Yep. When it was handed to me on the press night, I genuinely thought it was a quirky way to serve a drink but no, it was an actual pot noodle and honestly, just what I needed. Who knew I could be so easily pleased?

I’m definitely impressed by Red Door, and I think most people would be too. Who’s up for a drink? Let’s me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Club Trinity Leeds

Club Trinity Leeds
Club Trinity Leeds

I know I bang on about how much I love Autumn one hell of a lot, but I must admit, Leeds is a great place to be in the summer. I was invited to the launch of Club Trinity Leeds, which is in the middle of the Trinity Shopping centre and we had a really fun party. Just y’know with crowds of shoppers stopping to stare at what the hell we were doing as we drank frozen daiquiris whilst sat on various inflatable birds. Casual Thursday eve.

Trinity has set up a party area as they have brought back the giant helter skelter slide which goes from the top floor outside the cinema to the middle floor, nears Marks and Spencer. Needless to say, I was absolutely shitting it before I went down that slide, mainly as I was concerned about getting stuck – I can confirm that this was not an issue but I screamed my way down regardless. After a little lounge in the giant hammock (I was also concerned that I’d never make it out of that either as it’s do damn comfy), I was handed a margarita and the party started there.

Club Trinity Leeds

Club Trinity Leeds

If you’re in Leeds, I’d definitely recommend giving the slide a go as let’s face it, it’s way more fun than an escalator. It’s there until the 3rd September and is free to have a go.

Another perk of being in Leeds in the summer is the shit hot line up that Trinity Kitchen has going on right now. Trinity Kitchen is a street food lovers dream as they have some permanent residents (including Tortilla which is the burrito place and also absolute bae), and then a whole load of pop ups which are there for around 6 weeks at a time.

Club Trinity Leeds

Right now, my fave pop up is Thai Khrim which is ice cream rolls. It feels like everyone I know in Leeds has Instagrammed this so far, but if you haven’t seen it before, they mash up your flavour (this could be anything like a jaffa cake, oreos, strawberries) with the liquid icecream mixture over a cold plate. Then they spread it out so it freezes through and scrape it off into rolls and add your topping of choice. I went for nutella and then topped mine with chocolate sauce and an oreo. You’d think for £4 you’re paying for a bit of a gimmick until you realise that there is SO MUCH ICECREAM. 10/10 would recommend.

So, if you’re heading to Leeds over the next couple of weeks, you’re in for a treat. And even if it’s on a classic summers day and pisses it down, you’re under cover anyway. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

My holiday ‘type’

My holiday ‘type’ with Superbreak
Iamsterdam Sign

You know when you find something that is 100% your type on paper? Yeah, yeah, I know Love Island is dead for now, but that’s how I like my holidays – 100% my type on paper. I’ve written a lot about my solo travel plans in the past and a big part of why I travel by myself is because I want to do things my way. Is that selfish? Probably. Is it going to change? Absolutely not.

I’m definitely a lover of the humble city break. If I spend too much time alone without being distracted I over think a lot (hello 3am life evaluations), so going somewhere that’s full of things to do is definitely at the top of my list. I’m a big fan of the old itinerary, and like to take recommendations from others about places to go, things to see, what to do and most importantly what to eat as are you even abroad if you don’t try all things delicious? We all know holiday calories don’t count.

gluten free nutella cake

I’m all about packing my days full of sight-seeing as at the grand old age of 25, I’m far from the party gal I was at 18 (disclaimer, I was barely even a party gal then either), so I love early starts and seeing as much as I can, preferably getting home at a reasonable time. Yes, I know. I’m wild. When I was in Amsterdam earlier this year I found out that the hotel room had MTV and it was back to back new episodes of Catfish, which let’s be honest, is more my style than smashing a few spacecakes of an eve after a long day sight-seeing.

House of bols Amsterdam

Best western hotel room amsterdam

I was in touch with Superbreak recently to work with them on a Tinder style app where you swipe through a whole load of holiday photos (including mine – anything to help me get insta-famous) and then it’ll tell you the type of break you should go on. Naturally I came out as a foodie every time as brunch is my bae. Now I just need actual Tinder to up it’s game and find me a real life bae to go to brunch with. Or even better, someone to go on holiday with so that I won’t go away and sit in a hotel room watching Catfish. Either/or. But anyway, if you’re in need of some holiday inspo, I’d recommend checking it out. (FYI, I haven’t actually been asked to share this on my blog, I just gave them permission to use some of my photos and thought the end result was cool).

amsterdam canals

amsterdam canals

Right now I’m in two minds about my next trip away as I already have a Harry Potter nerd-out planned for September (London to see The Cursed Child, Watford for the studio tour and then up to Edinburgh for a whole load of must see HP destinations), and after that, I’m thinking Brighton. Just y’know for a Zoella nerd-out. Is that weird for a 25 year old? But after that, I really don’t know where to head on my next city break – apart from knowing it’s going to be somewhere foodie!

So, hit me up with your recommendations for Brighton in the comments and if you happen to know any Leeds-based eligible bachelors, hook me up with them too so that I can ditch actual Tinder for good. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Why writing is my therapy

Rooi Kate Spade Notebook Review
Kate Spade Notebook

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved writing. Short stories, diaries which contain my teenage heart, angsty poetry published on Bebo, you name it, I’ve done it. I can’t even describe the comfort that writing, whether it’s fingers to keyboard or pen in hand, brings to me. In fact, because reading and writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, my only tattoo of a book and quill symbolises that.

What I think a lot of people don’t realise is how much writing I do that doesn’t get published on here. I can’t even count the number of posts I’ve written in the heat of the moment, simply to get my thoughts out of my head and onto a page, purely because writing them like a post makes me feel like I’ve expressed pent up emotions, regardless of whether they ever get published. It makes me laugh now to look back at my school days when writing 1,000 words in an essay seemed like a mammoth task, and yet all it takes it one person to piss me off when I’m on my period to prompt a hormonal out pouring of twice as many words. Disclaimer: those words are absolutely not fit for public consumption.

Kate Spade Notebook

Something that I really struggle with is feeling as though I’m in control of my life. I’ve referred to this before as my need of feeling ‘together’. I think this is the negative side effect of being a single girl living alone as for the majority of the time, I’m reliant on myself and nobody else, and physically writing things down, whether it’s practical lists or creative ideas, really helps this. Let’s face it, if I forget to do something, whether it’s something small like making sure I don’t run out or shampoo or something bigger like forgetting to pay a bill, I only have myself to blame and I’m the one to deal with the consequences.

Kate Spade Notebook

Most of the time, for life admin type bits, I’ll record things digitally, either as calendar reminders, emails to myself or in the notes section of my phone, but when it comes to more creative things, I definitely prefer to physically put pen to paper. I’m an absolute stationary fiend and at the moment, I’m loving pretty notebooks with motivational quotes as let’s face it, with creativity comes an Instagram post. Am I sorry to be that blogger cliché? No. Am I the type of person to sit in a cafe writing down blog ideas using cute stationary as I wait for my avocado on toast to arrive? Yes. The one in the photos is by Kate Spade (via Rooi) is my absolute favourite at the moment as it’s a bit bigger and perfect for brainstorming new ideas. I know a lot of people prefer little notebooks that will fit in their handbag but my every day bag could rival Mary Poppins, so a big notebook is perfect for me.

Kate Spade Notebook

I find having ideas sessions with other people just as helpful as having them by myself. So many of my posts have come from other people saying ‘oh but why don’t you write about this’ and it’s an idea that makes 100% sense yet hasn’t even been on my radar. My absolute dream is to spend more time with bloggers just coming up with ideas for content and bouncing it around, writing things down physically in a notebook and creating a web of content themes for our blogs. Of course this would take place in a cute cafe and include a few pics for the old ‘gram. Note to self, make this happen!

So tell me, what does writing mean to you? Are you a lover or a hater? Do you write it down or type it up? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Appreciating Liverpool

Appreciating Liverpool
I’ve been to Liverpool a few times now but I’ve never really written about why I’m starting to fall in love with the city. As it’s on the opposite side of the country from where I grew up in York, it wasn’t in the day trip zone, so I’ve only really been as an adult, and it’s always been on race weekends where I’ve been there supporting the half marathon.

I headed across the Pennines recently, again to support another race, but ended up having such a lovely time that I wanted to share what I did, where I went and why it’s making me love the city.

I jumped on the train over, which takes about 1hr50 from Leeds to Liverpool Lime Street and spent the entire journey losing myself in Louise Pentland’s new novel, Wilde Like Me. If you’re a chicklit fan, I’d definitely recommend picking up a copy – I actually have two copies as I went to her signing in Manchester recently so I have a signed copy for best and the copy I pre-ordered to actually read. Does anyone else do that when they have a signed book?

Once I arrived, I checked into the Ibis Styles hotel on Dale Street, which is about a 10 minute walk from the station and I don’t know whether it’s because I was on the top floor or because I was at the back of the hotel, but it’s the quietest hotel room I’ve ever been in. My room was ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ themed and that was pretty cool. The Ibis Styles hotels tend to be a quirky version of the standard hotel, but when I paid just over £100, including breakfast, this definitely did the job. It was functional but the staff were great, room was clean and comfortable, and the continental breakfast was perfect for me (though very carb-heavy so if you’re gluten free/on Slimming world, you might struggle).

Ibis Styles Liverpool

I headed to Liverpool One, a shopping complex which I’d never really had chance to explore before, to meet my good friend Alex for dinner. It turns out that on the top level of Liverpool One, there’s a rooftop park?! Who knew! I’m now desperate to return to Liverpool to go shopping as they have absolutely every shop ever and I’ve never had chance to explore before. Alex introduced me to Wagamama for the first time, a restaurant that’s been on my ‘to try’ list for a while. We enjoyed a whole load of delicious food – I went for pulled pork gyoza and then a duck dish.

wagamama Liverpool One

After Wagamama, Alex took me to his favourite bar/cafe which is called Leaf – they have a massive tea menu which is perfect for after dinner when Alex doesn’t drink and I had an early start. It’s definitely one of those places you’d never normally go to as it’s a little off the beaten track, but somewhere that’s entirely under-rated for visitors as it’s so chilled. The gin and tonics looked incredible so maybe the next time I’m there...

Leaf Liverpool loose leaf tea

As I mentioned, I was in Liverpool for a race and though I wasn’t even up to walking the race after having been on the verge of death from the plague that week (AKA, had a cold), I still went down to support my sister and her friends who were running the Women’s Running 5 and 10k races. I’ve never met such a fantastic group of women when it comes to running – they get together every year to do this race, wear matching purple tshirts and then have an amazing picnic afterwards. We’re talking ultimate picnic goals!

Women's Running 10k Liverpool Sefton Park Picnic

That weekend definitely made me fall in love with Liverpool and though I always talk about solo travel, this time it was 100% the people that made me leave a little bit of my heart there. I can’t wait to go back, whether it’s to shop by myself or have a full weekend there with friends. I already have plans for my annual trip to support the marathon, but I think I need to get a trip in before then! Do you love Liverpool too? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Lifelong Bucket List

coloured umbrellas
Lifelong Bucket List

Right now, I feel like I don’t have a life plan. At all. I know what I want to do in my career and I’m on my way with that, but that’s the only direction I have right now. I wanted to write a list of the things I really want to do in my life. No time limits, no particular order, but the experiences I want to have. Then the next step will be working out how to achieve them! Here’s my bucket list, my to do before I die list.

Really explore New York
This one is definitely a while off as none of my hard earned cash is being spent in Trump’s America, but I’m desperate to go back and spend time in New York really exploring. I had a fantastic time there when I was 18 but my concerns then were shopping, not sightseeing, and now I want to go back and see it properly. I want to get the feel for the city, to focus on the experiences and to go to the places I’ve read about.

Fly somewhere first class
This is such an indulgent dream to have but I’ve always wanted, just once, to go on a long-haul flight and feel really damn fancy. As this is something which will always be out of my usual budget and I know that it will take a lot of saving up to do, but that in itself, feeling like I’ve really earned it, makes it so much more worth it.

Swim in the sea
I can imagine people reading this and wondering how the hell I’ve got to 25 without swimming in the sea but it’s actually one of my biggest fears – I’m definitely not a water baby, nor a strong swimmer, but I would like to experience it. Preferably somewhere shallow and without sharks.

Do something award-winning
I know that you should work out of passion and not for the recognition but I’d absolutely love to work on a project that wins an award. What can I say, I want to be presented with something shiny that I’ll see when I go into work and be reminded of the time that I did something really fucking good.

See a whale in the wild
I LOVE whales – and that’s from someone who is absolutely not a fan of the sea. I think they’re fascinating creatures, and seeing one in the wild is my absolute dream. In the meantime, I need to go see Dippy the diplodocus’ replacement at the Natural History Museum in London.

Buy my own flat
I currently co-own my flat with my sister but as I knew it was never going to be a forever home, I’ve never been all that emotionally attached to it. Buying my own flat, just in my name and making it my own little home is definitely on my list of things to do as I want to have a space that I feel like I’ve curated.

Get married
This is such an absolute cliché but I really hope that one day I get married. Even if I’m 90 years old and die a week later, at some point, I want to be a bride and experience that rush of energy when you commit to someone you love that much. This is so far away from where I’m at in my life right now (hence why this is categorically NOT a ‘things to do before I’m 30’ post), but I hope at some point, it happens.

Visit Harry Potter World in Florida
I’m just an absolute nerd, OK? I’d love to go and immerse myself in the magic of that world and live my childhood dreams out. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Watch a film with a live orchestra
This is another nerdy one for me but I'm desperate to see a film I love with the music played live in front of me. Either Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or Jurassic Park would be my dream as I can just imagine it giving me chills.

So, that’s my bucket list for now, and I’m sure I’ll add to it. What’s on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Little things that make me smile

Little things that make me smile
Bee happy jar

It’s important to take note of the little things that make you smile. Big things like buying houses, marriages, promotions and everything else might be big milestones to celebrations, but sometimes it’s nice to take stock of the little things that make you happy. I was inspired to do this after reading Sophie Cliff's post about things that give her joy and it made me want to write my own, just as a reminder to myself that there's a lot of things I love in life. Here’s my list.

1. Fresh bedding washed with your favourite laundry detergent.

2. Summer days that feel autumnal and are a reason to stay inside with tea, candles and Netflix.

3. Guilt free boxset binging.

4. Getting organised for the week ahead.

5. Waking up and actually getting out of bed instead of hitting snooze.

6. Listening to Harry Potter audio books on my walk to work.

7. Loose leaf tea brewed in a teapot.

8. Standing on the Juliette balcony in my flat and watching the world go by.

9. Being able to share the opportunities I get through blogging with my friends and family.

10. Spending loyalty card points on something indulgent.

11. Laughing at the same viral video that always makes you giggle no matter how many times you see it.

12. Doing sensible life admin like backing up your laptop just in case.

13. Losing hours to a new book.

14. Cheering people on at races as running is really bloody hard.

15. Taking off your makeup properly in a full skincare routine for the first time in ages.

16. Opening a new reed diffuser.

17. Having all of your clothes put away and the 24 hours before your floordrobe returns.

18. Buying myself fresh flowers for no reason.

What brightens up your day? Share the love in the comments.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Delicious Desserts at Kaspas, Leeds

Kaspas Leeds Review
Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts

I think we all know by now that I have an off the scale sweet tooth so I was pretty excited to be invited to try Kaspas, a new dessert spot in Leeds. I took my best friend Catherine with me (as she appreciates my love of sweet stuff) to try some sugary goodness after work. I’m not actually a full on lover of desserts, I’m more of a straight up chocolate kinda gal, but a trip to Kaspas has definitely brought me back round to dessert appreciation. And dessert appreciation is important.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts

Kaspas is situated in The Core in Leeds and opens late on evenings and for me, it’s the kind of place you’d go with your friends when you fancy something sweet but don’t want to commit to going for dinner. It’s family-friendly too and actually, I can imagine it being the kind of place where teens would go to hang out on weekends together. I can only imagine the teenage romances that could blossom in there over cookie dough.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts drinks

Kaspas is very much of a diner-style and feels quite American in that it has booths and an icecream-parlour feel at the counter. On the menu, there are waffles, crepes, icecream and cookie dough galore, with a load of options to personalise your choice, which I’m definitely down with. I went for a chocolate fudge cookie dough with vanilla and cookies and cream icecream and despite that sounding like diabetes on a plate, it wasn’t as overwhelmingly sickly as you’d expect. The cookie dough was chocolatey and gooey and the icecream was rich and creamy – it tasted like Italian gelato, not mass-produced icecream, which is the dream.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts cookie dough

Catherine went for the strawberry shortcake waffle, which she had on a M&M waffle. Her dessert came with vanilla Mr Whippy type icecream and her waffle was topped with strawberry slices, white chocolate and digestive biscuits. I tried a little bit of her dessert and it was really good – a bit too sweet for me personally as I’m not a white chocolate fan, but I’d definitely have it with another topping.

Kaspas Leeds The Core Desserts strawberry shortcake waffle

Kaspas is definitely a new addition to Leeds as I don’t know of anywhere else which specifically sells desserts. Whilst I don’t think it would be somewhere I’d go regularly, I’d definitely recommend it for families, especially for those long shopping days, or for younger people who aren’t quite old enough to go to a bar, but don’t want to hang around in McDonalds either. It’s a great location, reasonably priced and we had a lovely (and fit) waiter. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Birthday celebrations with Roxy Lanes

Roxy Lanes Leeds
Roxy Lanes Leeds

If you’re from the Leeds area, you’re probably already familiar with Roxy Lanes, the sister bar or Roxy Ballroom in Leeds. They seem to be taking over as they now have bars in Huddersfield and Liverpool too.

Roxy Lanes turned three recently and I was invited down to help them celebrate, which turned into a really fun evening. I hadn’t been to Roxy Lanes in about a year, having actually been there for my own birthday celebrations last year, but I’d loved it then and still love it now! It’s grown up, childhood fun – because who doesn’t love bowling with a Pornstar Martini in hand?

Roxy Lanes Leeds

They have so many games there, including pingpong and crazy golf, but I’m still desperate to go there to play beer pong. On the night of the party, I realised exactly how terrible I am at bowling without the sides up and was dangerously close to a toddler style tantrum at the number of gutter balls I got. It was embarrassing, I’m not going to deny it. I do love Roxy for bowling though as whilst it’s a little more expensive than your standard bowling alley, it’s the atmosphere, location and the fact that there’s a great bar and food on offer that you’re paying for. Usually you can get a couple of games of bowling and a main meal for about £15 which I think it a decent way to spend a Saturday afternoon! I’ve always found that Pink Gorilla has good deals for Roxy Lanes so if you’re planning on going any time soon, check them out first as you’ll easily save yourself a few quid.

Roxy Lanes Leeds

Roxy Lanes Leeds

I’m a long-time fan of Roxy and it’ll always be on my list of places that I love going as it’s just fun. It’s reverting to childhood, getting competitive, and the best place for friend dates, date dates and after work drinks dates. I’m actually heading to Roxy in Huddersfield soon as they’ve just launched their ‘bottomless lunch’ which is 90mins of cocktails and a main course for £20 – definitely a deal I’m down with.

So tell me, how the hell does anyone actually do bowling successfully without having the sides up? Tell me your secrets in the comments!
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