Honeymoonin' : 3 days in NYC


new-york-blog-3-days-timeline-travel-food-market-grafitti.jpg

Being indecisive and somewhat unlucky when it comes to the weather - we decided to split our honeymoon into three. The final ‘honeymoon-hurrah’ was to New York for a crazy three days.

Initially we had planned to do a ‘chilled one’ in the stye of a true New Yorker, but we couldn’t resist trying to see everything. No matter how many blogs you read telling you not to, you WILL walk too much in the first day.

We stayed East Manhattan, in the Bowery area - at The Public Hotel. Unquestionably cooler than us, but surprisingly not style over substance. The beds were stylish and oh-so-comfy, the staff were helpful and friendly and (my favourite bit) they gave you a free cookie and milk before bedtime (OMFG).

FRIDAY NIGHT
Drinks at the Public Rooftop bar and The Smile bar before crashing ready for the next day.

SATURDAY
A walk down south to see the World Trade Centre / Financial District / to view the Statue of Liberty from afar. On our walk back up we stumbled across a vintage poster shop which was a cave of beaut typography and print. Then The High Line / Chelsea Flea Market which were two of my favourite things, the high line had art and quirky sculptures along the restored railway before the perfect food pit stop at the flea market. It had a whole seafood section. Enough said…

We then headed over to Brooklyn for a cosy few drinks before watching the basketball at the Brooklyn stadium and treating ourselves to two very pricey steak sandwiches (ordered them before I really looked at the price). We walked back over the Brooklyn Bridge for a stunning nighttime view of Manhattan…

SUNDAY
A slight disagreement about where to eat breakfast (Clinton Bakery Co had queues out the door) but Remedy (Wes’ choice) was actually pretty low fuss and had the classic American Breakfast vibe going on. After all the walking we subway-ed it to Greenwich Village and ‘the mecca’ that is Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. This area felt like stepping onto the set of an American TV show, especially with the FRIENDS apartment round the corner. We carried on walking up to peer inside the beaut architecture of The New York Public Library and Grand Central Station, briefly stopping for a cheap slice of NYC pizza. En-route home as it was getting dark we stopped by Times Square. Everyone says not to bother but it does make you feel as small as an ant and is worth seeing for that reason alone.

MONDAY
Biggest hit of the day - Central Park. I wish we’d got bikes, one thing I was glad about though, was that we’d saved this till last. A bit of calm was needed after 2 intense days. Central Park in Autumn is pretty beautiful too… after this it was a toss up between Top of the Rock and dinner. Due to fogginess we opted for an American Burger and Thanksgiving sandwich in the Meatpacking district at Bubbys High Line - this place is right to be popular, great service and the food was easy & delicious (my fave combo). A sum up of the meatpacking district during it’s transition which I quite liked… ‘You’d see a nicely dressed woman sliding around meat juice in her Jimmy Choos’.

We headed back to the hotel for a quick breather before catching a taxi back to the airport…phew! You can do a hella lot in 3 days, as long as you get the subway :-)

Honeymoonin' in Paros (a mini Mykonos)


paros-greece-holiday-travel-blog-naoussa-cafe.JPG

From one blog to another, pretty Paros is easy to write about and very instagrammable (if that's not a word it should be). We discovered Paros via a brilliant travel blog The Sunday Chapter - where Paros was sold to us pretty instantly as 'Greece's best kept secret'. I'm not sure how much longer that will last - holidays to Mykonos and Santorini seem to be all over instagram at the moment, it's probably only a matter of time before the masses look for a (slightly) cheaper/quieter alternative.

We stayed at Minois Village  which felt authentic but special enough for a honeymoon. We treated ourselves to a 'poolside room' which was one of our smarter ideas because we got the most out of the room all day and they were beautifully done up. The nearest town was Pariokia which actually beat the favourite 'Naoussa' in my affections. There were lots of hidden streets and beautiful places to eat and drink (but avoid the restaurants on the seafront, one of our less smart ideas...).

There are lots of nooks and crannies to Paros - probably far too many to go into. Things I would have liked to do but ran out of time/money include hiring a car for longer and getting the little ferry to Anti Paros to explore and see the caves. If you wanted to venture even further then Santorini and Mykonos could be on your all-in-one hit list. Either way, Greece has always had a special place in my heart (mostly down to moussaka) so I can't wait to explore the other islands in the future.

Places that stole my heart in Paros,

1. Kolymbithres - 'Sci-fi' beach
The calmest, most interesting of the bunch (rocks that make it look like the set of a Sci-Fi film). I only wish we'd stayed here longer. If I was to stay in Paros again I'd try and find a location walkable to this as it's near the lovely Naoussa but quiet and beautiful. 

paros-kolymbithres-greece-holida-travel-blog-beach.jpg

 

2. Lefkes town
Dragged here during the oh-so-hot siesta I moaned a bit, but this turned out to be the perfect place to be. The church was stunning and was outside a little cafe with homemade lemonade. Quirky little shops are scattered throughout and worth braving the inclines for.

paros-lefkes-church-greece-holiday-travel-blog.JPG
paros-lefke-town-travel-blog-blogger-2.jpg
paros-lefke-town-travel-blog-blogger.JPG

 

3. Pretty Parokia town
Our nearest night and food life from Minois Village was Parokia. I loved finding little bars like the jazzy 'Pirate Bar', eyeing up the ships on the seafront and having moussaka in the cosy little outside/inside restaurant, Daphne.

paros-parokia-greece-holiday-travel-blog-pirate-bar.JPG
paros-pariokia-town-travel-blog-blogger copy.jpg
paros-greece-street-architecture-holiday-travel-blog-parokia.JPG
paros-greece-holida-travel-blog-parokia copy.jpg
paros-parokia-greece-holiday-travel-blog-daphne-restaurant-review copy.jpg

 

3. Our hotel, Minois Village
Stunning rooms and lovely enough food that makes it hard to venture elsewhere. We loved the sunbeds (of which there were a-plenty) but would have been nice to see what it was like in a full summer as the seaview seating and the other restaurant wasn't open in May/early June. The lovely quiet-ish Parasporos beach was within walking distance, which is always a bonus

minois-village-pool-suite-deluxe-room-review-blog-2.JPG
minois-village-beach-paros-greece-holiday-travel-blog-pool-view copy.jpg
minois-village-pool-suite-deluxe-room-review-blog.JPG
minois-village-beach-paros-greece-holida-travel-blog.JPG

 

4. Naoussa
One of the go-to instagram-famous tourist spots in Paros, and so - worth a visit. Things I remember about this place - we had the best fish dinner, and there were some very photogenic pink spots (the first photo in this blog is from Naoussa). Oh and the ice-cream...GELATO dreams.

paros-greece-holiday-travel-blog-naoussa-sea-view.JPG
paros-greece-holiday-travel-blog-naoussa-dinner.JPG
paros-greece-holiday-travel-blog-naoussa-icecream-shop.JPG

Many moons ago in the seaside town of Clevedon


the-pier-historic-clevedon-pier-seaside-town-british copy copy.jpg

One place we visited on our mini moon that I felt deserved it's own post was the seaside town of Clevedon. Walking along the pier, visiting second-hand shops and popping into the 100 year old cinema meant we felt like we were stepping back in time. 

In true blogger style I discovered Clevedon via another blogpost (ta Bath Mag) - which led us to places like 'Murrays Deli' and 'Midgley Green' along with a few others.

We started the day with a visit to the pier (something I was excited about, especially as I'd heard One Direction had also graced the wooden boardwalk). There wasn't much at the end but the view was enough and the visitor centre had some artwork for sale where we purchased a few prints/cards. Lunch at Tiffin on the pier was sumin' else...maybe slightly too early for crab salad but it was really good. Wes had 'the best fish finger sandwich' he'd ever had (and he's had a few, I also liked that it was served up in newspaper wrapping.

Shopping wise, we ventured a street further to home decor/gift shop - Midgley Green where we bought some lovely bits. Across the road Sakers Stationery was designer heaven - filled with notepads, prints and pencils.

Even as we walked into Murrays Deli for dinner (make sure you book), I was told by a customer how good it was. Mostly italian dishes on the menu, I went for lamb meatballs covered in ricotta and tomato - I wish I remembered what 'the husband' had but I only hesitated long enough to take a photo of my own. Lovely spot for dinner followed by drinks at The Limehouse.

Festive feasts, Indian Street food and lots of cake


Stow-on-the-wold-The-hive-coffee-cake-shop-theinkcloset-blog-cotswolds.JPG

Working our way through Christmas meant working our way through most of the restaurants in the shire (as if roast dinners weren't enough). 

One of our catch ups took place at The Tavern, which I've wanted to revisit since they brought back their old school menu. I started with clams & samphire in cider followed by Chicken, lemon, aioli and mash potato with marrow butter (sounds pretentious but definitely worth changing your potato side to this mashy goodness). The man had a burger which he wasn't that fussed with - I think Cheltenham has become the hub of good burgers and so they had a lot to compete with (more on this later...). We finished with a 'Sticky Toffee sandwich' because I'd seen it on Instagram far too much to resist (laters wedding diet).

New Years Eve was spent bar/house hopping - with an 'Indian Street Food' dinner wedged in between. Delhi Heights is fast becoming our favourite takeaway - with amazing Bhaji scotch eggs and build 'em up Naan breads with meat/sauce/toppings.

Feeling fat yet? If you can handle another mouthful then I definitely recommend a visit to Holee Cow for the aforementioned burger. V.juicy but the sides stole the show. Mac & Cheese bites, sticky chicken wings and chunky choc milkshakes. This was just what I needed to recover from a gin-filled festive catchup, and a much better prospect than the queue/cost/lack of tables at Five Guys.

Top this off with cake in every flavour you can think of and you've got yourself one Santa belly. We took a trip to Stow to pick up our wedding rings and had a cake break at The Hive - where we had Rose & pistachio cake and Chocolate & avocado (wtf). 

Now January is here I shall be shutting my gob/wallet and shaping up for the big day...

The oh-so-instagrammable Prithvi winter menu


lunchwithprithvi-prithvi-cheltenham-chelt-dinner-lunch-restaurant-review-blog-venison-meat-indian.jpg

On my way to the gym I run past the Indian restaurant, Prithvi - gazing longingly at the diners behind the blinds wishing I was doing that instead. One rainy afternoon last week I got my wish, and we sat in their beautifully decorated restaurant - drinking beaut (and I mean BEAUT) wine and sampling crisp mini poppadom appetisers as we waited for the first course.

The first course was Tandoor baked Salmon with beetroot 'ju', cucumber and mango. Light, but rich in taste it was the perfect first dish. To follow was Welsh Lamb, decorated with couscous (and a very pretty flower...), then venison with butternut squash and covered (by the man) in ginger & cinnamon sauce. The third dish was my favourite, nearly topped by the dessert - white choocolate, passion fruit cream and coriander/honey crumble...

Taking pictures of food like this is easily done, and it wasn't style over substance either. A great way to work your way into the winter season (also by forgoing the gym and having lots of food instead)...

Chocolate box Rye & apocolyptic Dungeness


rye-walking-house-town-history-sussex-travel-blog-blogger-theinkcloset.JPG

Thanks to Instagram (and the people behind the pictures) we discovered the chocolate box town of Rye and the weird derelict beach land of Dungeness - we ate 'the best meal of our lives' (Landsgate Bistro) and were inspired to take pictures of doors and random shopfronts (those last two were mostly me).

Our weekend away started with finding our Rye-based Airbnb, a cosy one-up one-down with copper decor and a funky bedspread. We dumped our stuff and made the most of the late afternoon by stopping at the White House for a quick sausage roll & vino (the perfect combo). Feeling the effects, we walked around the streets admiring the tiny houses and 'Tiny Bookshop'.

Dinner that night was spent at The Landsgate Bistro, a few doors down from our airbnb and they squeezed us in last minute. We were glad they did, what-a-feast. I had scallop in ravioli starter (not the prettiest but DELICIOUS) whilst the man had pigeon breast lightly dusted in bread crumbs. For main I had venison on lentils and CHEESE gnocchi, very yum whilst Wes had pork belly with a side of potato cake (just the right amount of carbs).

Sunday was spent visiting what was originally 'the main attraction' of the weekend - the derelict but charming Dungeness. Next to an old power station, this stretch of shipwrecked covered beach is also filled with chalets that look like they belong in Scotland or parts of America. I think this is prime location for artists to end their days, you'd walk along to find mini galleries in sheds and sculptures in gardens. 

All in all, a very instagram-worthy location.

Cheltenham bake-off cakes & floral finds


made-dot-com-plates-decor-cheltenham-blogger-blog.JPG

Living walking distance from local goodies makes treating myself at weekends all the more tempting. I've also discovered that my local Flower Man (actually called 'The Flower Man') sells country-inspired beauties like hydrangeas and delphiniums - miles away from your standard squished petrol station carnation. One (or two) of these at the weekend make the house look good for well over a week, and inspires me to keep the place tidy (ish).

In the spirit of keeping tidy - we decided the time had come to get rid of our mis-matched plates, when we moved in together a couple of years ago we amalgamated a bit of a weird collection. After some research and debating ('no I don't want plates with dachshunds on', 'how much?!') we settled on some black and white ones from made.com - this site is pretty reasonable for good quality decor when you compare with the high street.

Another local treat includes some chocolate swiss rolls (that were actually inspired by a technical challenge on bake-off) and blonde brownie from my old haunt, Brew & Bake. Getting my full gran on, I also went to the charity bookshop for a Cath Kidston covered edition of 'The Provincial Lady'.

So so old, and florally bold.

Creative cakes and street art in Bristol


bristol-blog-post-street-travel-blogger-st-nicholas-market-ahh-toots-wedding.JPG

Yes public transport is good, let's all use it etc. etc. This isn't one of those kind of posts, I will however, travel via train for good cake (and art).

Me and my fellow train buddy headed to Bristol with the aim of satisfying our craving for shopping, good food and gin (in that order). On arriving we decided to head straight for the cake, and not any ol' cake but at the bakery that shall be tasked with creating my wedding cake. Therefore, a tasting was 'needed'. Ahh Toots not only creates quirky looking cakes but also quirky flavours like lemon and courgette (actually delicious). On our way there we got a little lost and ended up stumbling around St Nicholas Market which was a great find, full of vinyl shops and street food stalls. Only wish we'd gone full force on our lunch here - but we were saving ourselves for something special later...

After a Zara stop in cabot (not quite so photogenic) we headed towards 'dinner'. A restaurant I'd seen on Instagram called 'Le Poivrot' which provides copious amounts of wine, cheese and posh food. En-route, just past the Christmas Steps, we found shops with beautiful prints and a candle that smelled like a hot man (Oakwood & Tobacco) at Dig Haushizzle.

Dinner was pretty on the mark - the menu is pretty small but what they do, they do good. I went for wood pigeon, and Nic went for Steak Tartare. All topped up with a big cheese board and bottle of red. On our way back we stopped at The Glass Restaurant for a (probably not needed) gin.

At risk of becoming a regular, me and the man visited Bristol only a few weekends before to see Upfest in Bedminster. A graffiti festival which covers every street corner, park and stadium (!). Lots of inspirational stuff...

Happy high up on the hill & below


A break was needed to enjoy the glorious weather we're having... (!), so we went to stay at Bruton in Somerset. Keen to relive my gypsy dream every year, we stayed in a twee converted railway carriage called 'Happy on the hill'. Overlooking fields, this was the perfect snug spot for Lola to have her own mini break running through the grass (this holiday was really all about her...). Some of the best bits included a log fire, local breakfast supplied by the host, outdoor seating that was sheltered from the rain (perfect book reading spot) and... (my personal favourite) a pink roll top bath *hands in the air emoji*.

Our host left us a map to walk into Bruton so we decided to brave the rain (minus google maps). Bruton is pretty sweet, though silent on a Sunday. Apart from the lovely 'At the Chapel', where we treated ourselves to a feast. All bloomin' lovely and in a very photogenic spot. 

A similarly lovely food-walk experience nearer to home can be had with breakfast at The Lavender Bakehouse followed by a dog walk through Chalford - and a mini shop pit-stop at Jolly Nice where more beautiful book covers can be found.

Our haggis, highland, magic-filled road trip around Scotland


plockton-highland-bull-cow.JPG

Aware that I've become one of those annoying 'travellers' who share every feast and sunny view whilst my chums are slaving away at work, I won't go on too long about my AWESOME TRIP TO SCOTLAND!

The best thing is that you can be sure to tick a good few things off 'the bucket list' by doing this road trip. From eating fresh oysters by the sea, to staying in a cosy bothy with a log fire - (at the risk of sounding cheesy...) there's an experience to be had at every corner.

On our 10 day trip we stayed at the following spots,

  1. Yorkshire Dales
    Stopping at Janet's Foss and the mountain that was inspiration for Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings, finishing our day at a classic Yorkshire pub.
  2. Edinburgh
    Given a handy guide by our airbnb hosts we worked our way tirelessly through the best spots. Making sure we visited the Greyfriars dog (Lola!), huge museum, castle and...Mary's Milk bar (you know it must be good when there's a queue outside the door). 
  3. Caledonian Canel (at the bottom of Loch Ness)
    Staying at a Canopy & Stars modern bothy, this spot served a huge seafood platter on the nearby Eagle Barge. With log fire and beaut decor, the bothy was one of the cosiest spots I'd laid my head.
  4. Strathpeffer (above Inverness)
    A sleepy little place with a steal of an airbnb chalet, stunning views and lots of open countryside and forest to walk at leisure.
  5. Plockton (by Isle of Skye)
    This was the perfect pit stop to visit Isle of Skye, where we visited the Talisker Whiskey Distillery, The Oyster Shed and the stunning Fairy pools (more on that later). Plockton itself had pubs brimming with atmosphere and Scottish bands, and was home to a great Fish & chip shop.
  6. Inveraray (Argyll & Bute)
    A sleepy spot but we needed a bit of luxury so this airbnb hotel room was perfect. Bathroom bigger than my house and a big Scottish breakfast in the morning. On our journey here we visited 'The Silver Sands of Morar' which is a white sand beach in Scotland (I couldn't believe it either). The Isle of Skye ferry made this journey a lot quicker too.
  7. Gourock (west of Glasgow)
    Not a huge amount around here, but we stayed in a castle with a good view of the sea! On the journey down we drove across Loch Lomond, with a memorable stop at the restaurant Venachar Lochside
  8. The Lake District
    We travelled across The Lake District, stopping at Osprey Point to see...an Osprey. Then bumbling around Ambleside before heading to our lovely airbnb room at the back of a farmhouse. 

The Isle of Skye day was my favourite, mostly because my man popped the question at the Fairy Pools :-) Which means that not only do I have a fairy-inspired sparkler on my finger but also something to take my mind off the post holiday blues. Be prepared for (maybe just a few) wedding blogs detailing my planning turmoil...

 

 

From Cheltenham breakfast bites to top wine spots


I've lived in Cheltenham for nearly three years now, and yet I'm still discovering places to devour breakfast and find the perfect wine (more on both of these...). This is mostly down to the fact that Cheltenham is so good at opening new bars and restaurants for the foodies to get excited about.

Somewhere I've been most excited about is Baker & Graze, partly down to seeing my chum sampling their menu every Saturday via Instagram. After one failed attempt (too busy) and another nearly failed attempt (had to sit in the window seats for a bit), Wes and I got to try their avocado and poached eggs on home-baked sourdough bread. Followed by a sourdough doughnut that the chef bought out last minute (*hands in the air emoji*). I'm also pairing my breakfast with Frankie magazine to take it to the next level.

Other new/not-so-new places include The Clarence Social where I had a ladies lunch with Nic. We felt like treating ourselves (it was a Monday) so had cocktails served in BIG glasses with lots of flora/fruit/herbs and ice followed by King Prawn lunch to soak it up. 

For dessert - I've been on the search for the perfect brownie, The Coffee Dispensary do beautiful salted caramel brownies, and Bill's do the perfect warm brownie dessert (also with Nic, on the same day we had lunch at the Clarence social....read: fatties).

From breakfast to something a little stronger - The Grape Escape is a hidden gem. Living just down the road is also a bonus, especially as they're fast becoming the latest dog-friendly spot for locals.

 

 

Starting the New Year with fish & chips and cushions


the-ink-closet-cheltenham-blog-urban-outfitters-ebay-crosley.jpeg

We started the New Year the best way we know how - with fish, chips and champagne. From the best chippy in Cheltenham (and the UK...), Simpsons Fish & Chips. I like the fact they do battered king prawns (my fave) served with a side of lemon. 

Whilst all my recent posts have been about home decor updates, that is my life now. The life of a renter who can do little else but buy funky cushions to make home feel like 'home'. In particular, more leaf print (THE visual trend of 2017!). I've also got back into the world of eBay - with the discovery of some urban outfitters-inspired cushions for our dining chairs (yes, more cushions), a retro (albeit broken) clock and an aztec rug. 

Another home decor update was for the bathroom - which we've given a lick of paint ('Pebble' or 'light lavender' as it actually turned out to be) and some wire basket shelves found in Sainsbury's.

As if these purchases weren't enough, I also took a visit to the Antiques centre in Cirencester - nothing short of a labyrinth with it's hidden rooms and tiny corridors. There I found a useless mug and song sheet print, which I'm yet to find a frame for. 

Here's hoping your 2017 is also full of beautiful (sometimes useless) things.

 

 

Winter breakfasts, red red wine & a trip to the Wilson.


love_angela_carter_books_hm_wine.JPG

As soon as I felt the first cold gust of wind on opening the door, I knew I wouldn't be leaving the house much this winter. Apart from special occasions like a birthday or a pre-arranged visit somewhere within a 2 mile radius. Or to eat.

After making this realisation, I also discovered how much I love red wine and listening to UB40 on the turntable ('there's a rat in me kitchen...'). The man has also upped his game with mackerel breakfasts and home-made 'tomato sauce' (I might bottle it up to sell). I've also been trying to read more books and scour less pointless websites... 'The woman who went to bed for a year' by Sue Townsend (inspiration for my new lifestyle) and 'Love' by Angela Carter are recent reads.

If you live in Cheltenham and are thinking of going a small distance, take a look at 'The Last Word in Art?' at the Wilson Gallery. With artists like Tracey Emin, David Hockney and the opportunity to create your own work of art - it's one not to miss. 

Tea-drinking day jollies local and afar


After a few jollies away I've been staying in my home 'tan. There is actually lots to do in Cheltenham and the shire, including drinking tea and carbooting. No really... some of the tea drinking took place at the Scandinavian Coffee Pod (I don't drink coffee). After walking past it's new location at the Edge Studios each day and Instagram-ing their funky bright yellow 'stick out' building I learnt there was cake. They've done a good job with the limited space, making it a cosy spot to have a cuppa.

I also got taken on a surprise visit by the man to the Well Walk Tea Rooms, where I sampled their bake-off inspired jaffa cake, macaroons and home-made sandwiches. Lots of food between two, ok three of us (dogs were welcome). They seemed pretty busy, so recommend booking in advance.

A mini jolly was needed so we went to Upton upon Severn. A village that feels like it's stuck in time with it's old shop signage, retro fire stations and 50's garages. It did lack decent places to eat on a bank holiday but hey ho. Talking of retro, we also visited the posh carboot in Birdlip where I picked up a vintage gem of a handbag. Black leather with detailed gold edging, mini purse inside and haggled down price. The perfect accessory for weddings/cocktail/more tea drinking...

An Airbnb stay in Brighton with eats and treats


Considering the tales of quirky shops, pretty seaside and great places to eat - I still had not been to Brighton. And after some Airbnb searching my chums and I realised it was probably the perfect place to visit. 

Ah I love Airbnb finds - I'm fast becoming a lover of the homely accommodation and feeling 'part of the community' as apposed to a standard hotel. We found a stunning 3 bedroom house, just over twenty minutes walk away from the pier - the decor was beautiful and we arrived to find a hamper of wine and jam (only two of my favourite things). 

We explored the North Laines on Day 1, and loved it. It seemed like the eccentric, reasonably priced shops had escaped over-priced rents and being booted out in favour of the high street usuals. This area was also filled with cool sandwich and breakfast cafes, with people way cooler than me sat outside with their dachshunds and vintage gear. We were pretty hungry so stopped at 'Bread & Milk', a clean classic sandwich shop with Halloumi flatbreads and homemade cakes. We also grabbed a Glazed doughnut from another spot to go with a cuppa at home.

After some browsing we then headed towards the seafront to see the new 'Viewing Point'. We didn't venture up, though I'm sure the view would be pretty good on a nice day. The modern glass makeover of this part of the seafront didn't sit quite right though. The nicest bits being the picturesque wooden architecture which were slowly disappearing. Hopefully this isn't a sign of what's to come in the next few years, people don't want to go to a town to see the same shops, the same decor, the same people. We go somewhere different for exactly that.

Enough ranting. Food! Of which there was plenty. VIP Pizza was recommended to us by a friend. 'Pizza, how exciting can it be!'. Very is the answer. Before we managed to get a seat at this popular spot we had a few crazy cocktails at The Plotting Parlour round the corner - seated in vintage theatre seats we 'plotted' our food choices then headed to the cute little Italian restaurant where people were sat tightly together but didn't care because the atmosphere was brilliant. Italian foods hung from the walls and were crammed into shelves. And the pizza...! Huge folded dough sides and loads of toppings. 

The next day we recovered from fuzzy heads with a walk through The Pavilion, again another must see and breakfast at 'The Breakfast Club'. Good grub, sort of worth the wait if you can be bothered and aren't feeling too fragile.

Overall a great weekend, take a peek at my Instagram to see more.

Meat, beer & cheesecake at Grillstock Festival


I was left feeling full and happy after being lucky enough to receive some tickets for Grillstock Festival. Burgers and music - what more could you ask for... 

The man and I travelled down on the train, and followed our nose to the harbour (literally - you could smell the BBQs cooking). As soon as we got there I was offered a free cheesecake. Win. It's like they knew I was a sweet-tooth at a meat festival. Turns out there were quite a few dessert stands - from Ice-cream to Krispy Kremes. 

The main stage kept us entertained with bands and chilli eating contests, as we tucked into our brisket and Budvar beer. A very good combo. And the sun was beaming, which was great as there was little cover for standard British weather.

From garden pancakes to posh #chelteats grill diners


It has been brought to my attention that I've eaten out a lot recently, I mean I knew this already but maybe I need to stop 'checking-in' so much and also...doing more cooking at home. Breakfast is one weekend meal that we usually do cook at home (albeit that's usually because we can't agree on where to go...), you also can't go wrong with pancakes. And as 'Project Garden' is underway, it also means we can make the most of our new garden seating - including some made.com inspired chevron furniture (found cheaper at homesense), garden lights and potted plants.

Another reason I keep venturing out for dinner is because so many new places keep opening up, including the new Firestation. My frequent dinner chum, Nicola, and I were quite excited about paying this place a visit (especially when we saw cocktails were a large feature of the dinner menu). The dinner was nice, and the cocktails were also pretty special - sat in a bar area decorated with hints of copper decor and a ladder to reach the 'higher' spirits. But the rather large price tag means I plan to keep this place for special occasions, or just the one cocktail.

Another grill place that is actually quite underrated is GridIron, I've been there recently for dinner and 'just drinks'. Staff are attentive and the food is indulgently good (American BBQ ribs, chicken burgers with avocado and smore dessert!) - with two cocktails for £12 I feel it's also a bit nicer on the wallet. 

To end this blog with something sweet...thanks to SoGlos for helping me discover Cheltenham's newest 'Freakshake' spot. Incase you've missed this Instagram trend - Freakshakes are over-the-top ice creams (quite literally) which look like they've come from Frankenstein's Sundae shop. Not quite there, but Blue Dogs Kitchen, are the Cheltenham-based creators. 

Enjoy these recommendations... and if you fancy a good eating out/eating in compromise try Siena Pizza on the Bath Road (Thursdays from 5-8pm) for some amazing stone baked Italian takeaway pizza. 

A wine-drinking, city-visiting Tuscan adventure


It's been a few weeks, and I'm (nearly) over my post-Italy holiday blues. Food - good. Wine - good. People - good. Scenery - good. What's not to love! Italy gets into your soul. 

We stayed in a beautiful farmhouse in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Castelvecchi sits high on a hilltop and is also home to one of the oldest cellars in Italy. We felt pretty chuffed that our room sat opposite a stunning view, with wine-drinking-seats included. Being a rather posh Rose drinker myself I wasn't too fussed with the red stuff (sacrilige), but after a few vineyard 'wine tastings' (read - 'free wine') I was converted. Tied in with some shop bought Italian ham/cheese/bread to eat on the veranda and I would happily have missed the flight back to England. 

To ensure we made the most of our stay we had a car to take daily jollies. We visited San Gimignano, Florence, Siena, Pisa and the lakes of Castiglione del Lago along with a variety of random villages in Chianti. Ever the teacher, my man taught me many things about the history of Italy. Whilst I taught him that I can buy a new outfit in a matter of minutes (the cathedral visiting no-skirt rule meant I had no choice) and that every day is Gelato day. View the rest of my pictures here.

In other news - The Ink Closet website is in the middle of a big upgrade. Some final tweaks then we'll make the big transition. Ciao for now!

A Cheltenham ladies-who-lunch day at Jamie's


This Friday I took the day off to have the perfect girly day - joined by my fellow aspiring lady-who-lunches chum. I had a nail voucher to use at Earls & Co, so we ventured there first for some nail care/champagne. The ladies who work there are super-friendly whilst also giving you the opportunity to chat amongst yourselves.

Just down the road from this is Jamie's Italian, situated in the former county court building (making your way to the 'dungeon-esque' toilets is interesting). We went there to try their new lunch menu for three courses at 12.95. Pretty reasonable anyway but the food there is so fresh/delicious/generous in size that this seems even better on the wallet. I started with a crispy squid starter, wrapped in 'newspaper' for an old-fashioned fish and chip feel. Bryony had pate on toast which was equally as tasty. For main I had steak and frites, with a parmesan topping. Bryony opted for a super salad and we both opted for desserts. Popcorn brownie, yes! Orange polenta cake! After some persuading from myself and the waitress Bryony opted for the latter and loved it. Top this off with some wine and we were stuffed. Two and a half hours later(!) we waddled out of there to do a (tiny) bit of shopping. 

All in all - a highly recommended way to spend a day off. I shall be venturing to Jamie's again soon,  if only for the two course option so less waddling is needed. 

Pinterest inspired purchases, Ikea ideas & Cheltenham chippies


Things have been pretty busy recently with the house move and Pinterest obsession (dangerous and useful when trying to decorate/buy furniture). Along with the discovery of made.com - this has encouraged the purchase of a few beautiful housewares including a dining table, matching desk and lamp. Keen not to spend my life savings in one hit though, I'm thankful for fellow bloggers (mydomaine) sharing their Ikea hack secrets. Who knew that a lick of gold paint or adding a block of wood could give furniture such an upgrade, see below some of her ideas...

Whilst we await the furniture (getting it straight from the manufacturers means there's a bit of a wait involved), we've spruced up our dining space with a vintage tablecloth (£1 spring fete buy), picture cluster and H&M cushions/placemats/candles. Other rooms are also decorated with H&M Home items (which I'll rave about to anyone who'll listen), they're bargain-friendly with pinterest inspired prints galore. If you're in need of some pinterest inspiration (mostly house related) take a look at some of my recent pins...

The move also created an opportunity for obligatory 'fish & chips with champagne' so we took a visit to Simpsons - my man can be hard to please (especially when he knows there are cheaper fish & chips down the road). But even he agreed 'These ARE the best fish and chips'. You can also order battered King Prawns, all wrapped up in their lovely new branded packaging. 

Another Ikea Hack

Our abode

Simpsons Fish & Chips