The way to my heart is definitely through my stomach so what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to enjoy a four course meal at my favourite restaurant with my favourite person? (cringe)
Last Friday my boyfriend and I had a late lunch/early dinner (linner?) at Aurum at the Seven Hotel in Southend and it didn’t disappoint. The food was delicious, the cocktails were strong but refreshing and the ambience was perfect. The place was decorated with heart shaped balloons, confetti and even the lighting fitted in with the theme of love with its red glow.
The first course was warm bread and butter washed down with Red Light and Bloody Mary cocktails respectively, followed by unbelievably tasty scallops. They were my favourite dish and I think I’d choose them every time they’re on the menu in future.
We both opted for beef mains but I went for fillet which came with buttery potato gratin whereas my boyfriend chose sirloin, accompanied by cabbage and other seasonal veg. Both of which were succulent and enjoyable and the portions were small enough to make way for dessert. I thoroughly enjoyed the creme brulee whilst my boyfriend chomped on a cheeseboard.
I’d definitely recommend Aurum for the food, drinks, atmosphere and friendly staff. My mouth is watering just typing this post and I’m already working out when we can go back.
This time last year, I remember seeing pictures of the stunning and clever light installations at Canary Wharf and regretting not going to see them for myself so this time I made sure I went along to the Winter Lights Festival to immerse myself in the illuminated displays.
Different parts of the area were dotted with a variety of light attractions, including this sign above, (translated from Romanian to ‘I miss you’) messages hidden in cascading water (I’m gutted there were too many people around for me to capture this one) and lit up benches that you could actually sit on.
I went on the first Saturday which meant it was so busy it was often difficult to get decent photos and videos. Next year I’d prefer to go during the week if I can as the crowds do get a bit much after a while. I didn’t get the chance to see everything but my favourite was in jubilee park where the water features were filled with white balls with coloured lights underneath. For more pictures and some videos you can have a look at my instagram account: Instagram.com/chelseyprentice
In a year of bad news and disappointing political events, where Brexit was meant to happen (various times) but never materialised it’s not that easy to feel positive about the future.
A new year is traditionally a time when many set personal goals so why not incorporate that into trying to offset the doom and gloom by making at least one goal something that has a positive effect on others? Whether its donating to charity or food banks, volunteering, buying something to eat or drink for a homeless person or helping those around you who are in need. Even having a clear out and donating what you no longer use to charity will benefit others. Another option is to cut down on the amount of new items you buy in an effort to help the environment.
On a personal note, I want to make an effort to blog more in 2020. I’ve had little motivation this year and let myself get distracted by scrolling social media but there is a lot going on that I should engage with rather than letting it pass me by. I feel like blogging in general is getting lost amongst the noise of instagram influencers and the like so it would be good to contribute towards hopefully the eventual revival of blog writing and reading. After all, people have a lot more to say than what can be squeezed into a caption or character limit.
I’m both fearful and hopeful about the future. We can’t control everything but we can all take steps to help those around us live easier and happier lives whenever possible.
There’s something about Halloween. Traditionally a celebration dedicated to remembering the dead, it has evolved over the years into the pumpkin carving, fancy dress wearing, scary film fest we know it to be today. As someone who hates horror films, I’m surprisingly a big fan of halloween as a whole. The spiritual side intrigues me and my fascination with transformation (perhaps its a Scorpio thing?) is definitely satisfied during this time of year. Plus I’m always partial to a pumpkin spice latte.
I recently visited a pumpkin patch for the first time ever and I felt like a big kid, excitedly scanning the field for a pumpkin to take home and attempt to carve. (Might be best to have 999 on speed dial, just in case) I’d definitely recommend it for an autumnal day out for big and little kids alike. Pumpkin patches are a relatively new Halloween activity which was previously only really done in the US but began creeping into the UK, gaining popularity last year, mainly amongst bloggers and influencers. I visited Foxes Farm Produce who have sites in Basildon and Colchester but patches are popping up all over the country so you should be able to find one near you.
There are so many Halloween themed products nowadays from decorations to sweets and candles which demonstrates how celebrating Halloween is becoming as big a deal in the UK as it is in the US. Every year my workplace have a fancy dress competition which I love getting involved in. It’s the only chance I tend to get to dress up for the occasion, especially as I’m too old to go trick or treating. On or near Halloween, I avoid horror films but I do like watching Hocus Pocus or Harry Potter. Does anyone else have any Halloween traditions?
I imagine that this time of year is even more enjoyable if you have children in your life who you can buy or make a costume for, take trick or treating and get involved in other Halloween activities with. That said, I’m like a child myself and throw myself into it as much as I can. Any celebration that involves food, especially sweet treats is a yes from me. Now, I’m off to hunt for some pumpkin scented candles and ghostly goodies… Happy Halloween
If you’re a scent commitment-phobe like me, then purchasing samples of fragrances provides the ideal opportunity for you to try before you buy and perhaps dip your toe into a world of scent that may have otherwise been financially out of reach. I tried Fragrance Direct UK because the site had good reviews and they stock brands I wanted to try such as Byredo, Tom Ford and Essentric Molecules at reasonable prices but there are other websites that may be worth a try and Ebay also have perfume samples available. The samples come in a purple velvet pouch and arrive pretty promptly.
The original fragrance is decanted into spray bottles and you can choose your sample size from 1ml up to 5ml, with some fragrances offering 10ml options. Prices are dependent on the scent but most start at around £4 with a 2ml sample costing around £5.70. It isn’t something you could do every month but as someone whose fragrance collection features mostly autumnal or wintery scents it was perfect for me to order a few samples to try for summer without committing to a full bottle.
I like quite niche brands and don’t want to always smell like everyone else but as these brands more often than not have a rather hefty price tag it’s good to try a few of them out before parting with cold, hard cash. The perfumes I’ve tried so far are Gypsy Water and Pulp by Byredo, Molecule 01 by Eccentric Molecules, Eau de soleil blanc by Tom Ford and Jardin d’Amalfi and Virgin Island Water by Creed. I love them all but there are a couple of clear favourites, one being the unique Molecule 01 which I ended up purchasing a full 30ml bottle of this month. Byredo’s free spirited Gypsy Water is definitely going on my birthday list but I’m equally in love with the burst of ripe fruitiness that is Pulp. Creed’s Virgin Island water is the perfect light summer fragrance with notes of coconut and the Tom Ford scent reminds me of suncream with a sensual edge so is ideal for summer nights.
Whilst I’m here I should really address the lack of blogging. I just haven’t felt inspired to write, I’ve felt a bit lazy and life has taken over. I also feel like Instagram has replaced blogging for many people and I’m sad to admit that. Maybe we just don’t have the attention spans to sit and read a blog post anymore? With this in mind, I’m not sure how many people will actually read my little blog but I suppose I shouldn’t let that stop me doing something I enjoy. Is anyone else still blogging on regardless?
Earlier this month, my boyfriend and I tried City Social for the first time to celebrate our anniversary and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Located on the 24th floor of Tower 42 in Old Broad Street, it boasts fantastic views of the City below. All of the staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating so we felt very well looked after.
Our waiter, Alex suggested I try cocktail pairing to match my drinks to the courses I ordered. The mixologist Nelson russled up two tasty martini based cocktails to compliment my seafood starter and main. Both had citrus elements but the second cocktail was my favourite as it reminded me of lemon meringue pie.
To start we both had scallops with truffle, celeriac, pickled pear and shimeji mushrooms which was delicious. For my main course I had fruit of the sea linguine with shellfish veloute which was rich, creamy and full of flavour. Desert was the best mango sorbet I’ve ever tasted followed by another cocktail.
They also gave us a chocolate cake with a Happy Anniversary message which I thought was a nice touch and extra desert is always a bonus. I couldn’t fault our experience and will definitely be returning one day for another special occasion.
Is disco making a comeback? It would seem so. Remnants of the genre began creeping in early last year and over the past few months I’ve noticed that there are more than usual new releases in the charts that either come under the disco umbrella or are influenced by disco. examples include Purple Disco Machine, Adelphi Music Factory and Lizzo to name a few. Some of the greats from the era such as Nile Rodgers & Chic and Chaka Khan are also releasing new material to add a touch of nostalgia your playlists.
There are various reasons for the apparent resurgence of disco, the current political climate being one of them. Why not escape the doom and gloom of Brexit by having a good old fashioned boogie on the dance floor? (Why do I feel like someone’s nan after writing this sentence?!) Disco is about having a good time, letting your hair down and leaving your cares behind which is definitely something that I can get on board with. Different styles of music also have cycles of popularity and the time has come for disco to have it’s turn in the limelight again.
Where music leads fashion often follows and I detect a disco influence in some of the current Spring/Summer trends. The maximalist look is a nod to the extravagance of the era and dressing up to the nines for a night out. Sequins are a disco staple and there was a smattering of sparkle across the SS19 catwalks from the likes of Prada and fashion magpie, Halpern. The sartorial influence of the 70s decade in general also seems to be popular with the return of tie dye, ditsy florals, waistcoats and a beige colour palette. There are even whispers that disco pants are set to make a comeback so with this in mind, I’ll be getting my glam on and dancing my cares away under a disco ball. See you on the dancefloor…
Christmas is definitely my favourite time of year but I feel like the older I get, the less time I have to actually just enjoy it. (The joys of adulthood) In between full time work, getting all the Christmas shopping done, the festive nights out and catching up with family and friends it’s not easy to carve out some time to just chill with a scented candle and watch Christmas films. Work doesn’t usually get any easier in the build up to Christmas, it’s often the opposite as the deadlines become tighter and you have to pull together to cover people who are on annual leave. They didn’t gear us up for this during the last week at school when we’d be winding down and spend most of our time making cards and decorations or watching films. How I miss those days…
Even though its supposed to be a joyous time of year, the pressure to get everything done and have the ‘perfect’ Christmas can often leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It’s important to take time out for some rest and self care. Although it’s temping to overstretch yourself, say no to certain invitations if you need to or just show your face for a short time then go home to relax.
I have plans for every weekend in December but I’ve tried to keep at least one day or evening free during each weekend which may end up being filled with Christmas shopping but I hold out hope that I’ll get a few windows of time to relax and get into the spirit. Planning out your days in a diary or calendar is a good way to get organised. For example, you could allocate one or two evenings each week to online shopping which is what I plan to do. I also write lists of what I plan to buy for people and cross them off once that item has been purchased.
Whatever you do to make the festive period more manageable, make sure you take time to live in the moment and enjoy time with your loved ones.
As a blogger, there’s pressure to always have the latest must-have items, even if it’s just for the ‘gram. How many of us have bought something that’s ‘of the moment’ worn it once or twice then got bored of it once it’s gone out of fashion? I’m definitely guilty of this but this attitude isn’t exactly sustainable for either my bank balance or the environment.
There is currently a large discussion around sustainable fashion and the damage that fast fashion, as the World’s second biggest polluter, causes to the environment. If you follow me on Instagram you will see that I attended a Lucky Things meet up earlier this month where founder Sunita, along with stylist Fatima Truscott discussed the disadvantages of fast fashion and encouraged us to shop our own wardrobes, only buying items that we truly love. This started the ball rolling for me and it gathered pace after watching Fashion’s Dirty secrets with Stacey Dooley not long afterwards. The sheer level of pollution and environmental damage linked to the fashion industry, as demonstrated in the programme was shocking and left an uncomfortable taste in my mouth.
Whilst I love fashion and being on trend, looking after our planet is vital so I’m making a conscious effort to buy less and make better choices when shopping. There are various ways you can still enjoy fashion but limit damage to the environment. I’ve been raiding my wardrobe and styling old items in new ways. Often trends are cyclical so if you love tartan and still have some pieces from a few years back you’ll still be on trend wearing said items now. It’s also made me think more about my own personal style, rather than just wearing fashionable items for approval from others and those Instagram likes.
Buying vintage and second hand clothing is a good way to get your shopping fix and it also means you’ll probably have something that most of your friends don’t have, which reduces the risk of ‘twinning’ on a night out. Personally, I’ve never thrown clothes away and always donate, sell or recycle what I no longer wear so this won’t change but I’d also like to organise a clothes swapping event at some point.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I will give into temptation and buy the odd fashionable high street piece but only if I really love it and plan to keep it for a few years then donate or recycle it once I’m finished. Seeking out sustainable and environmentally friendly brands or lines within brands I already love, such as Join life at Zara and the H&M Conscious collection is also on the agenda.
If we all make small changes it can make a big difference to the World we live in
I’ve been using WordPress for my blog for the past 2 1/2 years now but I never really thought to attend a WordCamp. I decided to accompany my boyfriend to WordCamp Brighton to see what it was all about. I thought it would be mostly full of developers with knowledge far greater than my own and that I would feel a little bit inadequate and alienated but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whilst many of the attendees and of course the speakers and organisers have a great deal of knowledge and expertise, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
I went on the Friday after travelling to Brighton Thursday evening after work. There were various talks and workshops going on throughout the day and you could choose which ones you wanted to attend. I found the workshop ‘Finding the Words to Press’ hosted by Tess from Mind Doodle very useful and enjoyable. It got me thinking about how to come up with ideas for blog posts and also what I’m planning to achieve with my blog.
The venue was in the centre of Brighton which is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for some time. For me, Brighton is almost an amalgamation of London and Southend on sea. Its vibrant, lively and cosmopolitan like London but also has the seaside town vibes of Southend where I currently live, only on a grander scale. For example, there are arcades and rides in Southend but in Brighton they’re all on the vast Palace pier which we enjoyed strolling along on the Thursday night not long after we arrived. It’s a place I’d definitely like to go back to.
I’ll admit, there were some talks and conversations throughout the day where I didn’t fully understand what was going on but its made me want to learn more and also engage with the community. It may have been my first WordCamp but I have a feeling that it won’t be my last. I’d definitely recommend it to fellow bloggers who use WordPress as you’ll gain an insight into how it works, get inspiration for your blog and also meet some lovely people.