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Out & About|| London Sightseeing with Megabus

Say we’re doing something touristy and I’m there. I love getting to spend the day sightseeing or hunting down the best museums in my city. I’ve heard one too many born and bred Londoners question why you would, when you live here. My answer…to appreciate it. To see the beautiful sights and perhaps learn something new. There’s so much to see. Why would you not want to go out and explore more when you live here? Make the most of it.

Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour

I really enjoy going wandering when my family comes to visit, showing them the sights. But I’ve never actually done a sightseeing tour before.

Why? Well, they’re quite expensive. And to be completely honest, I thought I’d just see the bits I knew, and therefore could easily get to on foot, saving money.

Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour

That’s until Megabus launched its new London sightseeing tour last week. 2 hour tours taking you past all the key sights. From only £1. Now even my dad couldn’t grumble at that!

I got to be one of the first to take the tour, which was awesome.

We did get a cheeky VIP London eye experience first. And the weather that day could not have been better. Sparkling elderflower in hand, catching up with the girls with these sights, you could say my Thursday was sure moving on up 😉

Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour Mega Sightseeing London Bus TourMega Sightseeing London Bus Tour photo by Kim @ Sweet MondayMega Sightseeing London Bus Tour

The bus tours start at Waterloo (London Eye Belvedere Road), Tower of London Tower Hill and Park Lane. So starting at the eye, you can guess we started our tour from the Waterloo departure spot. It’s not too difficult to find – if you’re standing at the eye looking out, it’s over on the far left and you should see the open top buses.

Boarded, snacks at hand, off we went. The bus was on a slight detour due to the commonwealth meetings, but we were still on the road for two hours.

Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour Photo by Sophie @ Popcorn and GlitterMega Sightseeing London Bus Tour

I loved it. Getting to see the beautiful sights of london from another height – I realised that I don’t look up enough. Learning new facts and insights from the commentary. Having a laugh with the girls. It was a fab evening.

Here’s just a few of the things I learnt:

  • London Bridge is the oldest station in the world, and the third busiest station in London
  • Along Piccadilly there’s an open air gallery on Fridays. Art works are tied to the railings of Green Park – something I need to go and see!
  • The River Thames used to freeze over. They even used to hold fairs on it – and an elephant walked across it. YES. AN. ELEPHANT!

Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour Mega Sightseeing London Bus Tour

Summary:

  • Price: from £1! Such good value for money and so competitive when compared to other tours
  • Ease: there are three pickup locations across the city; Waterloo, Park Lane and Tower of London
  • Fun/serious: a bit of both. You learn some really interesting facts, but if you’re going with family or friends you can make it so fun too!
  • Booking: via megasightseeing.com – book in advance to find the great offers!

I’d definitely recommend it for London visitors, and even those who live in London! I’m considering taking my brother on one the next time he’s down too!

Have you done a sightseeing tour before?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to be one of the first to try the new London sightseeing tour. All views my own. 

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Eating Out|| Authentic Portugese Cuisine with Taste Portugal

I’ve been to Portugal a total of one time. Ok I flew in another, to cross to Spain, but that doesn’t really count. It was actually one of my absolute fave holidays – sun, sea, sand, pool, adventures in the nearby town of Algor (including a night of karaoke), swimming with dolphins and an all inclusive package. Bliss. One thing I did remember about my trip, was the food.

Yes we might have been all inclusive, but the hotel I visited seemed pretty good at delivering authentic dishes too. I ate so much fresh fish. Even so, we didn’t actually venture that far for food on that trip, so I’m dying to go back for a foodie tour!

Portuguese cuisine is more than just piri piri. It includes many fish dishes, like salt cod and red mullet, as well as Alentejano pork from black Iberian pigs. No we’re not talking Nandos peri peri chicken. That’s actually not very Portuguese when it comes to dining out (it’s south african) – and even costs more than they’d pay for it! 

I might however, not need to go too far.

Taste Portugal held a banquet last week in honour of a number of restaurants serving authentic cuisine. Here in the UK. I was extremely lucky to get a spot at the dinner, courtesy of chef Leandro Carreira of Londrino, with the Ambassador of Portugal. In fact, it was held at his residency.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

The building was absolutely stunning. Chandeliers. Tapestry. Traditional art. The works. What a place to actually live.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

The menu Londrino had created in celebration was exquisite. It was one where it potentially needed a translation next to each item. That’s how you know, they’ve tried to use different fancy ingredients to create something unique right?! Five dishes. Smaller portions. Covering fish, meat and veggie.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

The craupaudine Beetroot with puffed amaranth was one of my favourites of the evening. It was meaty, deep in flavour and sprinkled with a slightly crisp grain.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

The pickled potato noodles (with cured cod and coriander) didn’t feel like potato at all. The flavour delicate alongside the cured cod and coriander. One beautiful, simple yet creative dish.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

The tarts were both delicious. The bolo de caco, anchovy & sorrel just topping the two – the pastry more dense, the salty anchovy and fresh sorrel combining into one tasty boat of flavours.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

The pork on the bisaro pork presa, red peppers, almond & garlic, was perfectly pink in the middle. The red peppers were wilted, making them juicier. The almond and garlic paste, was like a savoury, yet sweet version of a nut butter. It was amazing. Great paired with the pork.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

We finished up with a requeijao tart. A sweet shortcrust pastry encasing a fruity layer and cheesy topping, it was delicious. A fab end to a fantastic five courses.

Taste Portugal, Londrino, Portugese Cuisine in London

Its probably good to note here that each course was paired with a white (fresh, slightly sweet and not overly dry) or red (pretty full-bodied and oaky in flavour) wine, apart from the dessert which arrived with a side of port – something I hadn’t tried before (I know, I know) and now know it won’t be the last.

The ambassador presented the plaques to the restaurants in attendance whom were being recognised as official representatives of Portuguese gastronomy in the UK, and the evening came to a close.

Overall:

  • Food: Exquisite. Beautifully presented. Creative. Fresh.
  • Drinks: Delicious wine and port – I’m now a port convert. That’s definitely the way to do dessert.
  • So: I’m now dying to go to Portugal for a foodie tour even more so, but I have several new restaurants on my list here in the UK, to keep my cravings satisfied for now – especially now I know they really are champions of authentic cuisine!

Have you been to Portugal? What’s your favourite thing about the cuisine?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to the Taste Portugal dinner. All views my own. 

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Out & About|| The Biscuiteers, Notting Hill

You just have to visit ALL the cute spots in your home city right? Not for Instagram purposes but to see how good it really is for yourself.

The pretty cakes, soft oozing doughnuts, and beautiful biscuits. You have to try it all.

The Biscuiters, Notting HillPhoto by Sophie Rosie

A few weeks ago, on one miserable Saturday, I went exploring Notting Hill with Sophie Rosie. We both had one key cute spot on our visit list. The Bisuiteers.

The Biscuiters, Notting Hill

The Biscuiteers is a luxury biscuit boutique, offering hand iced biscuit gifts & chocolates. The Notting Hill Icing Cafe opened in 2012. Not only a shop, it’s home to the icing school as well as limited seating for if you fancy a quick caffeine and sugar pit-stop.

The Biscuiters, Notting Hill

Biscuits are obviously top of the menu, but the Biscuiteers also does hot & cold drinks, cakes, tarts, macarons and afternoon tea.

When we visited, the booths inside were all reserved for afternoon tea – they book up quickly! Even though it was chilly, we braved the cold and took a perch outside as we dying to try the well renowned biscuits.

The Biscuiters, Notting Hill

Coffee was good. Deep in flavour, but not bitter. The Flat White was creamy enough, even with skimmed milk. We loved the mugs – so cute.

The Biscuiters, Notting Hill

There were so many different styles of biscuit, from cupcakes to animals, which came in vanilla or chocolate. I still can’t believe they’re all hand-decorated.

The Biscuiters, Notting Hill

The biscuits had a delicious crunch. Not overly sweet, the vanilla added a subtle touch of flavour. Although it looked too good to eat, we couldn’t resist. Sophie said the chocolate biscuit was really good too.

The Biscuiters, Notting Hill

We stayed for a little, people watching and having a giggle, before taking another look around the shop and heading out to wander Notting Hill under our umbrellas.

The Biscuiters, Notting Hill The Biscuiters, Notting Hill

Summary:

  • Price: Biscuits are £4, so it’ a little pricey, but totally worth it. They are hand-decorated!
  • Food: Biscuits are delicious. Dying to go back for the afternoon tea.
  • Drinks: Coffee totally hit the spot.
  • Atmosphere: Cute. Laid back. Quiet.
  • Wait: You need to book ahead for afternoon tea. Seats outside are available for coffee however.

The Biscuiters, Notting HillPhoto by Sophie Rosie

I’m desperate to book in for a session at the icing school! not sure I’d be that great, but it’d be so much fun!

What other cute spots should I have on my list?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| Pizza Pilgrims, Exmouth Market

Pizza. Always a hard one to get right for Alex and I.

I’m all about sourdough. Artisan. Anything new and interesting. Anything a little different, sometimes even veggie. I’m there.

Alex is all for the toppings. Give him pretty much anything thin base with five types of meat, some sort of chilli and perhaps an olive here and there and you got the direct route to his heart.

So as you can imagine. Pleasing us both is tough. But we found a place (other than Mod which is firmly at the top of Alex’s list)…and we were both really impressed.

Pizza Pilgrims

Pizza Pilgrims has been about for a while. I’m late to the pizza party, I know. Now with seven restaurants, it’s come a long way from it’s street food days.

Pizza Pilgrims prides itself on its authentic Neapolitan pizza.  The *secret* recipe to the pizza bases was created after the founder’s pilgrimage around Italy, tasting pizzas and fresh ingredients as they went – a pizza created straight from the heart of where pizza was born.

Pizza Pilgrims

The Exmouth Market pizzeria is a tad on the small side, but there is a downstairs too. However on a Saturday when we visited, at prime dinner time, we still got seated straight away.

All of the Pizza Pilgrims branches have the same look and feel – like an Italian diner, with black and white tiled walls, plastic check table cloths on all the tables, mirrors and pretty standard seating.

Pizza Pilgrims

Eyeing up the pizzas on surrounding tables, the margarita appeared to be the most ordered – not surprising as they’re well known for this. The menu actually features ten pizzas, with both pizzas with a red base and a white base (no tomato) taking pride of place.

Intrigued by the white Pizza, and how anyone could live without that rich tomato sauce to accompany the cheese and toppings, I took the plunge with the truffle mushroom. Oh I did not regret my decision.

Pizza Pilgrims

With a thin yet doughy authentic base, rich truffle and umami flavours, and plenty of stretchy mozzarella, it was like one delicious cheesy flat bread, but better. And I did not miss that tomato one bit.

The chilli and elemental crust dips made the difference when it came to those thick, leftover squidgy edges. The chilli, a creamy sauce with a good kick of heat, whilst the elemental sauce was strong in taste and thick – you only needed a little. Between these two dips, no crusts were left behind.

Pizza Pilgrims

Alex got drawn in by the special at the time. The Hawaii not. Fresh honey roast pineapple, spicy nduja, buffalo mozzarella and fresh chilli, it was designed to settle the debate on whether pineapple should be used on a pizza – we came to the almighty conclusion that yes. Yes it should.

Pizza Pilgrims

A fab mix of potent nduja and sweet, juicy pineapple on a tomato base pizza – the combination was always going to be a winner in our eyes. Not as many toppings as Alex would usually like, I was surprised to find how much he loved it – he was sad to find he finished it so quickly. That boy can eat I’m telling you.

Beer being the ultimate pizza companion, we both opted for a can of Birra Morreti, which went down smoothly. The drinks menu has plenty of other options too from cocktails to soft drinks for any non-beer drinkers.

Pizza Pilgrims

We desperately wanted to save space for the Nutella pizza dough ring, as it looks and sounds insane. But the savoury pizzas were way too good to stop ourselves from devouring the lot. Consequently being very full – even if Alex did eat some of my crust too. I’m telling you, those crust dips are the one. Alex didn’t want to leave anything.

We were done, paid up and debating routes home within just over an hour. Service is speedy yet friendly, and they don’t rush you out – you can sit and enjoy the rest of your beer easily as your food settles.

Pizza Pilgrims

Summary:

  • Price: Pizzas between £5.50 and £11 – standard for an artisan pizzeria
  • Food: The pizza is amazing. Don’t be afraid to try a white pizza, and make sure you get a crust dip for the full experience.
  • Drinks: Quite a selection but beer and pizza = best friends
  • Atmosphere: Relaxed, diner style
  • Wait: None. Seated quickly and food arrived before I could change my mind through food envy of those around me

We think we found a contender to top pizza place in London! In my eyes, it beat Franco’s hands down – even without the sourdough base. I’m already thinking about when we can go again.

Have you tried a white pizza before?

Chloe xx

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Lifestyle|| The wedding speech

Wedding speeches. Oh the pressure. Everyone expects to laugh or be sent into an array of varying ‘awwww’s. Am I right or am I right?

Traditionally speeches were given by Father of the Bride, the Groom (with a toast to the bridesmaids) and the Best Man. This is very simply put of course. There is a long version with plenty of back and forth.

Nowadays, it’s a little more flexible. The bride and groom can pretty much have whoever they want do a little number.

My dad almost turned his down as the father of the bride at my sister’s wedding. Ok I’m hearing many cry WHAT as I even write that. It’s not because he didn’t want to do it exactly. He believes he’s not the best public speaker and hates all attention on him.

So I stepped up. A duo we became. And between us, we nailed it.

Still taken from the video of my speech – hence why it’s a tad blurry.

Here are some of the things I learnt:

Brainstorm first – just sit down (perhaps with a glass of wine or two) and list some of the best memories you have. All the funny times, heartwarming moments and even perhaps a couple of cringe-worthy bits too. Don’t forget though that there will be people of all ages listening, so maybe keep any bad details to when you go for your next night out or sleepover.
All these best bits will form the basis for your speech, so scribble down as many as possible, and once you can’t think anymore, sleep on it. Go back to the list and narrow it down to the ones you think would work best.

Write your speech. Then write it again.
Start writing as though you were just talking to someone. You want it to be natural. You can scrawl bits down, add bits in here and there, and even completely restructure until it feels right. Once you’re happy with it, write it out again – this will help you remember it, but will also be neater for you to learn from.

You could even write note cards with reminders for your speech if that’s easier for you. It’s just whatever works best for you.

Practise, practise, practise. And get feedback – read over your speech until you’re comfortable with it. Maybe even pretend you’re already there at the wedding, about to get going and deliver how you imagine it’d be. The more you practise, the more you’ll feel comfortable.

It’s a great idea to get some feedback from someone relatively close to the bride or groom too. They might spot something you don’t, give you something to add in and could help you build confidence in yourself ahead of the actual day.

Have multiple copies – at my sister’s wedding, the best man deleted his speech. Yep, the whole thing was gone. Wiped clean. Oh, the stress. So definitely make a couple of copies just in case. Luckily he improvised, and although shorter than he first hoped, it still came out really well.

It’s a great test of improvising ability but don’t put yourself through that if you don’t have to.

Don’t worry about getting nervous – we all get nervous. It’s because we care so much. It’s totally normal.

Just get up there. Remember, you were picked because they think you’ll smash it, and show them they were right. If you’ve done all the above you’ll totally nail it, and if you slip up, everyone will be drinking anyway so probably won’t notice. Just make something up, or pause, glance down and pick up where you made a little hiccup. You got this.

And there you have it. My top tips for a smashing wedding speech.

Have you done a wedding speech before?

Chloe xx

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