South Bank Christmas Market

It’s been a super busy week and so this weekend needed an injection of Christmassy joy! We headed up to the South Bank Christmas Market to have a little look around and see the sights.

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This outdoor market is set up with loads of little wooden stalls selling an array of festive items, from ornaments and lights to hot brownies and waffles. We had a wander through the stalls, which is beautifully accompanied by the reflection of the London Eye on the river and the array of Christmas lights.

The Rekorderlig Cider Lodge returned this year, bringing its classic ciders as well as the Christmassy mulled cider! We bought a pitcher of the Passionfruit flavour and had a seat outside at the benches. The cider lodge is surrounded by stalls and also has a perfect insta worthy view of the London Eye.

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(stupid me forgot to save the photo pre sticker)

This day out was such a nice experience – full of festive cheer and definitely would recommend, just make sure you wrap up because as Christmas gets closer it’s only going to get colder!!

Know any Christmas markets worth the visit? Leave a comment and let me know!

Love, Maddie x

Ask Italian – Lakeside

All sorts has happened in my life recently, including getting a new job! As a treat for this, my Mum, Nan and I went over to Lakeside Shopping Centre for a day of workwear shopping and of course a stop for lunch!

We headed to the Boardwalk for a browse of where to eat and chose upon the brand new branch of ASK Italian. The restaurant, we later found out, had only been open a few days!

Sitting down in the beautiful front window, we were given a tester of the restaurant’s craft lemonade, which went down a treat! I opted to order the Raspberry still lemonade and my Nan chose the classic flavour. The drinks were served in these beautiful bottles which I absolutely adore!!

We then struggled to choose our food, as it all looked so appealing and the menu included lots of new dishes.

I chose the Spinach and Ricotta Girasole which, ‘Meaning ‘sunflower’, these pretty pasta parcels are served with spinach and a mascarpone cream sauce.’

My mum chose the Speciali Purple Basil Pesto Genovese, which is a ‘Fresh egg tagliatele in a green pesto and cream sauce, with fine green beans and pine nuts, topped with purple basil pesto.

We both chose vegetarian dishes on this occasion, and we were so pleased with how filling they were, we both had to ask for takeaway boxes as we were so full we couldn’t finish them! (Always love this because I get to have the dish again later or the next day, easily pleased!)

My Girasole dish was seriously creamy, and I’m a big fan of the mascarpone sauce so would recommend this dish which is new to the menu!

The dishes were around £12.00 each which is quite a lot for a meat-free pasta, however, most ASK Italian restaurants currently have an offer with VoucherCodes! This code entitled the user for 30% off main courses! I think this makes the food far more affordable and therefore would give this a 7/10 for value for money – especially as the food was so filling I used it for two meals!

As this restaurant was brand new unfortunately they were not accepting vouchers at this early stage, however, paying full price wasn’t bad and I didn’t regret the trip at all!

I definitely suggest taking a trip to this new restaurant as the decor and the quality of food is amazing! Everything had been thought of, including the Christmas decorations and I especially loved the lighting and the beautiful pink marble effect tables. If you know a new restaurant opening please leave a comment and let me know!

Love, Maddie x

Getting into the Gym…

Okay so this is something completely different and doesn’t fit with my blog genre so far, but I thought it’d be a good idea to just write about the things I’m passionate about – because these are the topics I have something that might be worth saying!

For the past few years at university and after graduating I’ve been going to the gym. When I say this, it’s very much an on and off process… but towards the end of 2016 and start of this year I really tried and was going about 4 times a week for about 8 months. During that time I didn’t really change physically (snacks are seriously my downfall) but mentally I felt so much better, stronger and happier! Plus I love the feeling of being strong, so obviously regular trips to the gym helped this too.

But since moving back to London in the summer, I’ve seriously let slip the gym life… And now, wanting to get back to it (having felt and seen my muscles melting) I’ve found it really difficult to build up enough courage to go.

I’m not generally an anxious person, and usually am up for giving things a go, so this feeling was quite a shock for me, especially as it’s lasted for a few months and has stopped me from being able to do things as freely as I would like.

However, today, after about two months of wanting to, but feeling too nervous to go, I went back to the gym. Although it doesn’t seem like much, I feel so good and so pleased with myself. Instantly I feel stronger and more able to face each day, that’s the main feeling that I had been missing.

Building up to it has been so hard, and I’m likely to not want to go tomorrow – but this feeling of strength is what I need to hold onto, because for me, it’s about feeling like I can conquer things, and feeling able to tackle anything I feel like.

I am literally so unqualified to offer advice to anyone, but if anyone else is struggling with the thought of it, either going for the first time, or going back after a break, my main tip is to just set yourself a small goal first. Only aim for a short workout, start with the exercises you like the most, allow yourself lots of breaks, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling. I think the thought of going is so much scarier than the actual activity, so perhaps take a trusty friend, but honestly I would recommend because you can do it! Just take your time and build yourself up!

If anyone knows the feeling or something similar please leave a comment about your experiences and tips! Every little step helps!

Our Halloween Experience at PYO Pumpkins!

I love love love getting into the festive spirit, whatever the occasion I am down for the joy, so when I spotted a pick your own pumpkin farm, I had to jump on board the bandwagon.

We went to Riverside Farmers at Beluncle Farm, and visited their annual celebration to pick our pumpkins!

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We went on the Saturday just before Halloween, so it was super busy and there were loads of families and friends enjoying themselves and choosing their favourite pumpkins. It was such a nice time out, and was free to enter, only having to pay for the pumpkins you take home.

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The pumpkins were super instagrammable, and we spent a few hours choosing which were the least blemished… we filled the wheelbarrow, only to end up choosing one tiny pumpkin that cost us a single pound.

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I was so impressed with this day out, and would definitely recommend to anyone, but especially children and families as it was a lot of fun and something nice to do altogether in the Halloweenie spirit!

What did you do to get involved in the spooks this Halloween or Bonfire Night? If you have any recommendations, leave a comment and let me know!

Love, Maddie x

Oxford Street Christmas Light Switch On

So last night was the annual switching on of Oxford Street Christmas lights, and as I was in town anyway, I decided to hang around and have a watch!

Rita Ora was the guest this year who pressed the button, and the streets lit up with the baubles and icy tree lights.

Seeing London like this always brings extra joy, and the majority of Oxford Street was pedestrianised to allow spectators the best possible view, and for safety too! It was extra busy along the usually packed street, and everyone was happily snapping away pics of the fresh lights.

The festivities were in full swing, and many shops now have their Christmas displays in their windows, notably Selfridges which always has amazing windows (worth a trip just for a window shop for sure!)

Although I have lived in London my whole life – apart from the uni years – this was the first time I have been to see the lights being switched on! I would recommend it to people, as it’s a nice way to begin the Christmas joy, however I think it is best to arrive early and get as close to the stage as possible. We were quite far along the street and it seemed there were some technical mares, as the sound wasn’t great and it was hard to hear what Rita and the Capital Radio presenters was saying. However, I’m never one to turn down Christmas cheer and so would definitely visit again, even if it is still slightly early to begin celebrating…

So what do you think, is it a waste of a trip? Or would you like to get involved next year? Don’t forget there’s plenty of other areas with lights to be celebrated, for more info on their dates, see here!

Love, Maddie x

Honeydale Farm

Fancying a Sunday morning breakkie, my boyfriend and I headed out to Honeydale Farm today. The location of this little farm café is perfect, with great links to the local area, but also a lovely view out onto the surrounding farmland in Kent.

Whenever I visit Honeydale Farm, I am always surprised at how busy it is. The little café is always full, with lovely countryside chic furniture and two outdoor areas. We luckily sneaked a seat and ordered our food.

We did have to wait about half an hour for the food, but were informed of this and so it made the wait not seem so long. Plus, the food was SO worth the wait.

We ordered an Eggs Royale, and their new(ish) addition to the menu, Sunshine Eggs. The Sunshine eggs consisted of two poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce on sliced avocado and an English muffin.

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Eggs Royale and Sunshine Eggs From Honeydale Farm

It was beautifully served, and seasoned very well. These delicate touches really enhanced the simple breakfast and we were seriously pleased!

I would rate this meal a 6/10 for value for money, as it is slightly on the more pricey side for a simple dish, however the setting and the thought of giving to a local farm business means every once in a while this delicious treat is definitely worth the trip!

For treat inspiration, check out the Honeydale Farm Instagram, full of homemade snacks!

If you know of any local farms and little cute cafés that are worth the trip, please let me know in the comments!!!

Love, Maddie x

Bella Italia – Bexleyheath

So tonight my mum fancied a cute night out for dinner, somewhere local and with a deal, of course.

We headed to our nearest Bella Italia as they currently have a 50% off mains deal!!! How insane is that! We were pleased and headed out for a bargain dinner.

I think that this place is actually reasonable without a discount, but with 50% off, it’s such good value for money.

Knowing we had the deal, we both opted for cocktails, a classic Aperol Spritz for Mum and an Orange and Spice Spritz for me. At first after ordering I thought, actually is this going to be gross… orange prosecco and spice? It actually didn’t sound appealing after all – however, after taking the first sip my mouth literally dropped. It was insanely good. The balance of the fruit and spice was perfect and it just tasted like a fizzy juice. As you can tell, I was a big fan.

We then opted to go straight in for mains, choosing a classic base Cotto pizza, and a Ripiena base Barbecue Chicken one. The Ripiena crust is stuffed with ‘melting mozzarella, Provolone cheeses and garlic butter’

The pizza was delicious, and I was so pleased to have chosen the stuffed crust option! Feeling a little greedy, it seriously filled me up. I actually didn’t manage to finish and brought the last few slices home with me for breakfast! Couldn’t resist!

The meal, with three cocktails and two mains came to just over £30. Which, considering the drinks were £6.99 each, this was quite a cheap one! If you take off the drinks, this would have been such a bargain of an evening, but as it’s Friday we decided to treat ourselves and I don’t regret it at all!

For more info about the menu at Bella Italia please see here!

To get that insane deal we used VoucherCodes; in order to get this deal and many others, see their website here!

If you’ve got a favourite local restaurant, leave a comment and let me know!!!

Love, Maddie x