All the fun and games

I partnered up with giffgaff to get some old fashioned offline times, which is getting harder and harder to get in this digital world of ours. To be honest, it is almost like a challenge nowadays.

Having a little weird family away from my family is wonderful, but the fact we mainly socialise (maybe a little bit too much) by going out means we sometimes we can lack in real connection in down time.

So I had no excuses, giffgaff kitted me out with online tools – their awesome sim cards were used (and abused) to organise our night in, map journeys from work, order some food and cabs home; a power bank to make sure we managed to do that; camera to capture the moment (even though my friends were, surprisingly camera shy that day) and some super fun offline gift: board games.

One evening after work we chose, in between courses, glasses of wine and chats about our upcoming nights out, to play Weird Things Humans Search For and Bucket of Doom, which was the most fun – the stories started shy but quickly escalated.

We picked the phone less. We laughed more (only marginally, we are usually hilarious anyway), we were present.

After a evening of good food, friends and crying-with-laughter fun, I went to bed with my belly and heart full, thinking how lucky I am to have these weirdos around me.

Resolution: do this at least once a month. And get that missing one in the group to come next time!

I also very surprised to find out how much flexibility giffgaff gives when choosing how to use your mobile.

They offer free sim (yes, FREE) where you can either get a “goodie bag” with some great value minutes and data – or just the sim to pay as you go and SIM only monthly plans from £6!

Flexibility to suit you is key – so you can change or cancel at any time!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples as products were GIFTED, in partnership with giffgaff.

When in Covent Garden…

Covent Garden is a place close to my heart – one of my first jobs in London was walking distance from it, so many a lunch times were spent there.

And while is has all the tradition, it also has modern and luxurious options. Visiting London? A Covent Garden hotel is the perfect base to explore the area and the capital.

Theatres? It’s got it. Walking distance to many city landmarks? Check. Many restaurants, catering for all tastes and budgets? You bet!

What about cocktails? Covent Garden is a lovely place to go for drinks and some foods after work. Many places have great happy offers on drinks!

We picked the new SushiSamba, there for just a year, with a beautiful decor to match their flamboyant cuisine.

It is located at the top of the old market, with views that allow you to take in the historical surrounds of the market.

Because you are in the heart of theatreland, most restaurants will offer a fixed price menu at a pre-show time, usually until 6:30. And that was the case there too, for my surprise.

For £28 per person you get 3 courses to taste their menu – it’s great for an express lunch too, which gives you the chance to sample their Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian fusion cuisine.

I had ceviche, salmon sushi and a delightful banana cake for desert. Move to the bar after dinner, for some cocktails amongst their lush rainforest decor.

In lovely surroundings, taste cocktails, nibble on some great food and let the conversation flow. And that’s not just at this place – options are aplenty!

The atmosphere in Covent Garden is fantastic, and there are so many bars, clubs, restaurants, performances and shops to keep you amused for days, to suit all tastes and budgets.

Sip some tea with delicious macaroons at Ladurèe; grab a pint at the famous Punch & Judy pub; have some martinis at Dirty Martini, head off for some dinner at The Ivy, soak up the atmosphere of the piazza watching the street performances.

The possibilities are endless. Lucky you of you’re staying in the area.

And you can shop to your hearts content – from well know brands to small independent retailers and market stalls, you’re sure to find gifts for everyone you need to buy.

Worth noting that the festive season around Covent harden is magical. At the moment they have an autumnal display but the Christmas decor is already making its way into the pavilion – Apple Market already has the beautiful giant baubles, mistletoes and disco balls being set!

Covent Garden has so much to offer – even after 17 years in London, at every visit, I discover a new corner.

This post was created in collaboration with Hotels.com. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

It’s wedding season!

Calm down, I am not settling (down)! Now to the real reason behind the title…

If you are a bride, there are lots of big ticket items you will definitely have ticked off your list, but we know the devil is in the detail and one of the little touches that makes a big difference is giving your bridesmaids and wedding party a thoughtful gift. 

They supported you through the blissful, the stressful and even maybe the bridezilla and it’s lovely to say thank you for having them in your life. 

How, you ask? Pandora has a lovely bridesmaid collection, geared towards this type of gifting, but also options aplenty on the site, and with options for various budgets – be it to keep as a token of gratitude and friendship or to wear on the day. 

The collection is very stylish and carries very intricate and symbolic designs, ranging from classic to trendy, certain to meet all varied tastes and age groups.

The selection of their famous charms for the occasion is very cute, some carrying meaningful messages. You can build a bracelet for £129.

On top of that, a necklace is always a good choice, and Pandora’s selection is second to none – the one I was gifted, Shimmering Wish, costs £70 and it’s sterling silver with cubic zirconia in the shape of a wishbone.

It can be made into a set with earring and a lovely bangle with the same design.

Apart from being beautiful and well crafted, Pandora really helps take a tiny bit of stress from having to go to many places to gift your wedding party – to be honest, most of their jewellery is more than suitable for the occasion.

We were presented with the new collection at the Ivy Tower Bridge, over a fun night for food and drinks, where we had a calligraphy workshop  – which is also handy to get those gifts an extra special touch! 

I am pretty sure that thanking your bridesmaids with a Pandora gift would have them, unintentionally, thanking YOU for a thoughtful gift to be kept for a long time.

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: I was invited to see the collection and was gifted the necklace. This piece, however, is based on my honest opinion.

Summer is calling!

Somerset House is a special place in London – not just for me, I am sure. The art, the fashion, the fountains. There’s nothing not to be in awe of.

I used to work around the corner and the terrace comes alive in the warmer seasons and this year, San Miguel is (beautifully) owning the space, putting a gorgeous Spanish laid back twist to it. 

Obviously San Miguel beer is widely available, but not only as we know it: they have a selection of 10 different beers, which include special edition varieties, with varying strengths and using hops from around the world, as well as gluten and alcohol free versions.

Brave enough for a Dorchester? Its ABV is 9.1%!

Food is a ace, as in any Spanish affair: tapas such as albondigas, tortillas and padron peppers, as well as sharing platters and delicious wood fired flatbreads to be washed down with the beer selection, or the very interesting beer cocktails.

Sceptical as I am, I was somewhat besotted with Piscolinho (£10.25), which contains pisco, cointreau, agave syrup, lime and San Miguel Especial. 

And the decor? Well… think Spanish veranda: white washed, pink flowers in abundance, a swing (very insta worthy!). 

The Somerset House x San Miguel terrace is open throughout the spring and summer until September.

Well worth a visit, as well as the place it sits in, when strolling through the capital.

You can check all the details on the Somerset House website (and make group bookings). I recommend you check their menu – you won’t be able to resist!

A beautiful setting with fantastic food and drinks – what a way to spend a (hopefully) balmy summer evening or a scorching afternoon!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: I was invited to the terrace opening, so it was a PR experience. This review, however, is based on my honest opinion.

New in the London nightlife

Just hanging: Near & Far with the lovely Kat (and a few cocktails)

Camden is a place I don’t venture that often, but I was glad I made it for the opening of Near & Far. 

If you’re thinking the name is familiar, you are right: there’s another one in Peckham Levels and they belong to the same group behind the Magic Roundabout. 

The bar is pretty, let’s agree beforehand. Pinks, palm trees, flamingoes, in a Palm Springs style: it’s an insta-dream.

It has a terrace, perfect for the coming months, and hiding at the lower level is a gorgeous sitting room like area, with the most gorgeous hanging chairs and neon art. 

Being one who does not pass on a cocktail, I am happy to see Peckham classics and new additions such as the The Benedict Cucumberbatch (gin, elderflower and cucumber) and the Emergency Brexit (play on a classic Negroni), both £7.50 – very affordable!

The menu, by Elote, is fabulous – a Mexican fare of snacks, tacos and tostadas, with options for everyone – all gluten free. I loved the pulled pork tostada, and the chickpea fries are definitely worth a try!

You can check their food and drink menus out, and head to their website to make bookings – apart from being a cocktail and food place, they also host ArtNight events and cocktail masterclasses. You can also do private bookings and have the place to yourself!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this is an AD as I was invited to the opening night to sample the drinks and food. This review, however, is based on my experience and reflects my honest opinion.

Unleashing creativity

Gorgeous gift!

I do love doing something different and Viking really nailed it recently with their Tudor times creative evening.

With some background live lute music, we were treated to a little food feast, plenty prosecco and fabulous workshops to unleash our creativity, Tudor way, to celebrate Shakespeare Week.

My best attempt

First, the calligraphy workshop ran by the talented Mathilda from Quill London. I have been to one or two workshops with those guys and they are a great intro to the art of calligraphy.

Putting pen to paper. Photo by Eloisa (https://www.elouisageorgiou.co.uk/)

And the kit we left the event with will fuel my like to it.

Calligraphy is a great way to create head space, and sometimes I just write on old magazines images, to ease my constant battle with anxiety.

The biggest surprise of the night was, doubtless the sonnet writing workshop, which was, in the very short time available, a whistlestop class on the art of poem writing.

The lovely Jacqueline Sapphra expertly explained what a sonnet is (fourteen line poem, usually written in iambic pentameter and rhymed, you all) and we got to write sonnets, but one line each, complementing others’ writing.

And we were introduced to the sass of Edna St Vincent Millay.

It reminded me of classroom play, when we created to most amazing stories by passing a notebook around and I enjoyed way more than I though I ever would.

Of course, Viking has stationery solutions for all your writing needs so I’ll be able to keep putting creativity to paper!

You can check their website out – but careful, once you go in, it’s hard to get out!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this is an AD (GIFTED), as post contains PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience reflects my honest opinion.

Art and wings in the heart of Hoxton

If you don’t, I’m an east London girl. Well, adopted, that is. 

Many years ago I left SW crying on the front seat of a moving van, clutching a box containing my most precious shoes towards east London. I never looked back and now I can say E is definitely home.

Amongst the (maybe many) bars I go to, the Hoxton Square Bar does hold some find memories of my ex (yes, very fond) so I was delighted to be invited back as they have seen quite a few changes since I last visited.

Currently, the bar is dressed in the beautiful Chanovsky “RGB Universe” exhibition, on until 29th June 2019. The artist presents on the wall three different artworks, that can be seen when the light changes to red, green and blue (get it?), so it makes for great surroundings.

Now, I had the cheeky Don’t go to Dalston cocktail, which is so fresh with raspberries and lime, made with my favourite tipple, vodka, and topped with prosecco.

So good I stuck to it, but there’s a whole menu of cocktails priced £9 and £9.50, as well as the usual bar fare – beers from and wine from £4.70 (bottle) and £4.80 (pint) and wine from £4.90 a glass and £20 a bottle.

To eat, Orange Buffalo serves up a filling selection of food. You can of course, have their speciality, chicken wings, with 7 sauces to choose from. Legend has it a person fainted after having it, so proceed with caution.

Being the wimp I am, I went for the Sgt. Slawter burger (£8.50) – succulent breadcrumbed chicken thigh on a potato bun, with cheese and, well, a mild sauce.

It was so filling and I couldn’t stop eating even though I should’ve! And of course, on the side, their home curly fries (£3.50), which I may say, are deliciously crunchy and extremely flavoursome.

Service was great and fast – although they don’t do table service, ordering and receiving the order was very smooth. And you can book tables.

My friend had the vegan option, the cauliflower “wings” (£8) – battered cauliflower served with hot sauce, coriander, sesame seeds and slaw and she approved!

There’s also a gorgeous veggie burger on offer and if mine is anything to go by, I think it’s a winner!

Oh, and they have a photobooth – £3 for 2 prints and you can email the image over – and it has a wind machine!

Adjacent to the back of the bar, there’s a live music area, where they hold at least one live gig a week and during the weekend it turns into a club! 

Hoxton Square Bar also has a private events room, the Green Room, with a bar and DJ booth, which holds around 100 people.

I hear they are going through a bit refurb in the summer, so doubtless will be even better!

Get yourself down for a basket of wings and to check the exhibition before the end of June. You can check out what’s on on their website.

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this is an AD as the experience on the evening was GIFTED. This review, however, is based on my experience and reflects my honest opinion.

A little London haven

Agua. In my mother tongue, something I cannot live without and if I had my way, I wouldn’t go without the agua Spa, at the newly renamed Sea Containers London hotel in London.

Beside the fact it’s my favourite hotel – it has a great restaurant, an amazing growing floor bar facing the river, a cracking rooftop bar and a gorgeous cinema, the agua Spa really lives up to the rest of the family.

Delighted does not even describe when I was invite to sample one of their treatments and their delightful spa menu.

I experienced the hot oil manicure which is great to help improve the condition of nail that may have been a bit neglected.

The 55-minute treatment combines nourishing organic oils from Dr. Jackson’s which soften the cuticle and moisturise nails. Then, using Japanese techniques, nails are buffed so the nutrients go deep into the nail bed.

It is great for nails that have been damaged by gel application, polish changes, health conditions or medical treatment, as it helps restore them to health and no polish is needed for up to two weeks.

This picture was taken 5 days after the mani and it still looks perfect – shiny and pink!

The hot oil treatment is available for pedicures too (I am tempted to have one as my toe nails are indeed in need of post-winter hibernation TLC), and is priced from £50 (off peak, £55 peak).

Treatments take place at the fabulous Glamour Room within the spa, an area that can also be hired for pamper parties – birthdays, hen do and other celebrations. They offer a great range of treatments and packages.

Which leads me to the menu. What a fab food and drink menu to help take relaxation to another level!

I tried the delicious Immunity (£10) and Energy (£15) booster bowls and could not have enough of the tasty, fresh goodness in them. However, the star was the scrumptious salmon tartare, avocado mousse and oscietta canape cone (£12). The flavour was off the charts! I could’ve eaten 10.

The also have a range of snacks, fresh juices, sundaes and of course, champagne for celebration or well, just champagne. Definitely check out the impressive menu on offer.

And you can have afternoon tea there (from £38pp).

Last, but not least, the spa itself. What a gorgeous haven or tranquility. I had a terrible day that Tuesday and very quickly it all got wiped away by such a great environment and people – service was professional, attentive, personal, warm and overall lovely; the people are the real assets there!

The lounge is an (insta) dream, the steam room is superb with a great shower, and the showers are amazing. And the toiletries are Malin+Goetz, so… Love.

You can check out all the spa treatments available, including massages, facials and body, including maternity specific ones. The range of products they use is also carefully curated to offer really bespoke, quality treatments. Well worth a visit.

For more info, visit the agua Spa website.

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: I as invited to the spa, so this post contains some PR samples. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them.

Share the Toblerone love this Christmas! #ad

Toblerone Christmas gifts under £10

It’s December, so we are officially allowed to talk about Christmas. How to better kick off the festive season than with a massive Toblerone bar – all 750g of it?

Yes, you heard it right: that’s over one and a half pounds of that delicious milk chocolate and crispy honey and almond nougat concoction we know and love. 

And the best bit? It’s the perfect size for a generous Christmas stocking. Actually, not sure that’s the best bit as it’s under £10. Ok, the £9.99 (RRP) price tag *is* indeed the best part! Or will it be the yumminess? 

Toblerone Christmas gifts stocking filler

Would look equally nice under the Christmas tree and guess what? It’s the kind of gift the recipient would be inclined to share so win win – for family and friends! 

For the variety lover Toblerone fans, there’s a tasty gifting pack with five 100g bars: dark, white, fruit and nut plus two of the classic milk chocolate Toblerone. It costs £7.49 (RRP) and guess what – it is also perfect for stockings.

Want to be the envy of the secret Santas this year? Well, look no further! I had two people in the office saying (and I quote) that “Toblerone is my favourite chocolate EVER”.

Can you blame them? As I am a sharer, this will be making its way to the office and I’ll start spreading the festive joy!

Plus, there’s a Toblerone for every budget, from £1 upwards. Apart from the amazing new gifting options, you can also get a 100g bars in 4 varieties, a box of Toblerone Tiny as well as the fab 360g bar we are quite familiar with. See? Easy! 

You can get Toblerone from major retailers nationwide and start risking names off that Christmas list!

written by Dani

This is an ad, a lovely collaboration between So Many Lovely Things and Toblerone.

On being a WOMAN

There was a time when I was faithful to one fragrance. As I got older and embraced the multitude of facets of my personality and moods, I started wearing perfumes to suit – and depict – them.

A very personal choice, it is always a delight when I come across a fragrance I can add to my “mood portfolio” and WOMAN by Ralph Lauren fits right in.

And what mood is that? The strong, yet feminine woman. The one to wear when I want to lead like a woman (say, like everyday, right?)

Matching Ralph Lauren’s concept of designing womenswear with menswear sensibility, the perfume comes in a hip flask shaped bottle and is the perfect shape to carry on the go.

For me, it’s a great fragrance to wear day or night with its contrasting bold florals and rich woods, with top notes of blackcurrant, pear and rhubarb, then tuberose, orange blossom and Turkish rose at its heart, and a base of sandalwood, hazelnut and woods.

Alluring, strong and deep, it has a great staying power, especially on the hair.; its modern femininity concoction of notes crafted by Master Perfumer Anne Flipo.

WOMAN also introduces Lead Like A Woman, an initiative to spark dialogue around closing the leadership gap between women and men.

There are three short films produced by an all-female cast and crew and starring Jessica Chastain, in partnership with Women in Film (to which the brand also donated to) to support its cause – use the power of media to advocate parity.

We all have inspirational leading women in our lives – right, left and centre – and we should always strive to support other women to reach their full potential. Quoting Nadine Baggott, who, at the launch event quoted Madeline Albright, I wholeheartedly agree that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women“.

So many women throughout history and today have sacrificed so much to fight for rights we have now, I cannot quite believe when women, who know how hard it still is to be a woman, want to take their peers down. So ladies, look out for each other: support, encourage and compliment honestly. Individually we are much stronger than we think, but together, we are invincible.

And all the love and recognition to my mum, a very young mother who raised me to be my own person, always supportive, loving and a real example. Thank you.

WOMAN is available exclusively at Boots until the 11th September, then nationwide at major retailers and sells for £49 (30ml), £69 (50ml, seen here) and £89 (100ml), all RRP.

To find out more about Ralph Lauren fragrances, visit their site. And of course, check out the Lead Like a Woman initiative.

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say again: this post contains a GIFTED PR sample. This review, however, is based on my experience with the product and reflects my honest opinion on them. Laters!