31 Jul 2017

July Reads: Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

A review of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Confession: I’ve only read 119 pages in one month. I know right, who am I? I don’t know what happened. I’ve let you down, I’ve let myself down… etc etc.

Those 119 pages were of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that Paula Hawkins wrote the hugely successful The Girl on the Train which I was a big fan of. It was never going to live up to the intense hype surrounding it but it was a solid psychological thriller that I raced through; so naturally I was gonna pick up Paula's next book.

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water and the place they call the Drowning Pool…

It’s hard to offer a true opinion after only 119 pages but so far, I’d say it’s a good’un. I wasn’t as instantly hooked like I was reading Girl on the Train but I think that’s because the many, many character perspectives takes a while to get used to. But otherwise, I’m being sucked into the mystery page by page.

There's an atmospheric quality about the words with the water element and the heaviness of grief seeping through. It’s intense and creepy, with all the makings of an unusual 'whodunnit'.

23 Jul 2017

9 Amazing Places We Ate At In New York City

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

Before I kick off some serious food porn, I feel that I should mention that everywhere we ate in NYC was ridiculously sexy. So this list is, in my limited experience, the places that you absolutely MUST go to, that will leave you in a state of pure foodie happiness, that you will want to go back to immediately.

A few things first. For starters, I HAVE to mention the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar. Not included in this list for obvious reasons but what a place to go to for a cocktail. You can sit directly in the shadow of the glittering Empire State Building and basically cry at how beautiful it is.

Next, I haven’t included The Boathouse in Central Park because we weren’t blown away by the food. It was nice, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t feel like it was worth the price or the fuss. The location, however, was so dreamy particularly if you manage to get a table by the water. My advice? GO. It’s a gorgeous location and will make you feel like you’re in a film, but just grab a drink or snack and then go to one of the below for the main event.

And finally, a shout out to Maxwells, a cosy little place G discovered in Midtown which did some sexy mac n cheese, Patsy’s on the upper west side for delicious oven-baked pizzas and Junior’s near Times Square and/or Brooklyn for top notch NYC cheesecake (in about eight million different flavours).

And now for the main event:

Jack’s Wife Freda

Hands down, the best place we ate at in the week we were in NYC. We went for dinner here on our last night and it was so flippin’ good, we went back for our final brunch the next morning. There’s two locations and both have major Instagrammable décor (check out their dreeeeamy instagram account here). It’s American food with a Mediterranean twist and it was tasty, scrummy; all of the descriptive words. Just so good. Brunch is what they do best (I’m salivating at the memory of the eggs and halloumi) but try and squeeze in an evening trip as well. Also the cantaloupe juice is a must-have. Oh and we saw David Schwimmer here so if that’s not reason to go, then I dunno what is.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America


The main menu is kinda like a posher version of Nandos in that you pick a meat, sauce and two sides but that’s not why you should go. Bubby’s is famous for the pie and for a bloody good reason. I had their peanut butter and chocolate pie and it was literally the best thing I have eaten. Seriously, I haven’t stopped going on about it since. It also has a cute décor, an awesome old-school playlist and is located right on the high line.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America


You may judge me for this one but look at me, not giving two hoots. I bloody loved ShakeShack and it felt so New York. I know we now have them in the UK but I’m almost scared to go because how can it possibly be as good when you’re not sat in the sunshine in Madison Square Park? Which btw, is apparently the original ShakeShack. Their SmokeShack burger may be the best burger I have ever had (the sweet pepper is what does it for me I think). Just sayin’. The crinkly fries and milkshakes are also crackin’.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

The Meatball Shop 

If you don’t love a hearty bowl of pasta at least once a week, then we probs can’t be friends. Soz and that. You can choose between pork, beef, chicken, veggie or speciality meatballs as well as different sauces like homemade pesto or spicy meat and different pasta like spaghetti or penne. There’s also a good selection of sides; I panic ordered some chilli broccoli cos WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME I ATE VEG. Each bowl comes with lashings of parmesan and a slice of focaccia bread. Heavenly.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America


Lol at how poor doughnuts are in the UK compared to ‘Merica. These babies are as big as your face and I’m not ashamed to admit I ate it all. I ordered the lemon poppy seed and can confirm it was as sexy as it looked.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

Absolute Bagels

I was kinda expecting something a bit more from this place cos it was recommended to me more than once (and there are a lot of bagel places in New York) but, nope, just a side street bagel shop with kinda rude staff. But there were HUNDREDS of different types of cream cheeses. Sweet and savoury. And the bagels were doughy and warm and really rather sexy. We took ours into central park and sat in the sun as the adrenaline from our helicopter ride seeped out of us.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

Emack and Bolio’s 

About two blocks out of central park and a necessity on a hot day. Not only does it do every flavour of ice cream you can imagine, it also specialises in the sexiest (and weirdest) cereal toppings, coated in melted marshmallow so it sticks to your cone. G said it was too much and, okay after a while I did feel like I was eating radioactive sugar… but who even cares? LOOK at it.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

Tick Tock Diner 

Probably the most stereotypical American place we went to during our week. It was actually the place we went to on our first morning and it was so perfect for making us feel like we’d arrived in the US of A. Exactly like you imagine an American diner, full of colour and waitresses filling up your coffee cup as you walk past. Oh and the pancakes and bacon were the stuff of your filthiest dreams.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

Rice to Riches 

Imagine Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour for rice pudding instead of beans and you’ve got Rice to Riches. IT’S A WHOLE SHOP FOR RICE PUDDING, NEED I SAY MORE? Ngl, there were so many flavours that I actually kinda panicked. Too. Much. Choice. I asked if I could have two different flavours not realising that I’d actually ordered two portions. And G doesn’t like rice pudding. Oops. It’s quirky, fun and full of the best pudding in the world. I’ll say no more.

A descriptive list of places to eat in New York City, America

Can I just go back now please? There are still so many places to try.

13 Jul 2017

41 things I learned at university

July 2017 marks 4 years since my graduation. Can I freak out now? Where the effing heck did those 4 years go? I seemed to have jumped from downing jagerbombs to shiny (and alarmed) new graduate to like, can I say it, a somewhat functioning adult?


Uh huh. I just said ‘heck’. Cool, I’m now in my mid-fifties.

Here’s what three years as a student in Bath taught me anyhoo. It’s not got much to do with my degree subject, ngl.

1) Medical walk in centres are a life saver. For when you suddenly realise you're down to your final pill, for the time your friend walked into a pay and display machine (good one Haylz), for a life time supply of banana flavoured condoms... These guys got ya back. Unlike the on-campus doctor. Where were you at pal?

2) Heels are overrated. Why put yourself through the pain when you could wear comfy flats and literally dance all night?

3) Small universities can get pretty incestuous pretty quickly and you might end up sleeping with the same people as some of your friends. Least you can compare notes.  

4) It doesn’t matter how exciting a topic is; if you have to write an essay on it, it suddenly becomes about as interesting as watching paint dry.

5) Toilet pictures are hilarious if you took them and horrendous if you’re in them. There are several photos of me drunkenly pissing in existence and one day they will resurface in a blackmail scenario, I’m certain of it.

6) Going to a lecture drunk actually isn't 'better than not going at all'.

7) It is possible to develop the ability to completely ignore your body when it's begging you to stop with the endless cycle of alcohol, toasties and all-nighters. Shut up you whiny bitch.

8) You can survive for a long time with a fork as your sole piece of cutlery.

9) Going out drinking when you have a fever is kinda idiotic. Sweat it out babes, sweat it out.

10) To survive a house-share successfully, you need to be forgiving, patient and DON’T EAT OTHER PEOPLE’S FOOD.

11) Agreeing to take part in a science dissertation means you could end up in a laboratory eating sausages. Don't ask.

12) Singing along to the radio in an A&E waiting room does not make you popular.

13) Absinthe is about as fun as drinking bleach. And let's face it, you basically are.

14) By the end of the three years, you will probs have heard and/or witnessed most of your friends having sex. It’s surprising how blasé you are about it by the end.

15) Pinning your graduation hat to your head is a guaranteed way to make sure it stays on your head but ruin your ‘throw your hat in the air’ photo.

16) Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to get a student overdraft. It will follow you around for years afterwards like some creepy ex.

17) Drunken heart to hearts form solid friendships. And usually take place in the smoking area of a club.

18) Students don't actually live off takeaways (who can afford that shit?) but you will eat many portions of cheesy chips at 3 in the morning.

19) You probably shouldn’t dance on a roundabout in six-inch heels cos you probably will sprain your ankle and probably still have problems with it six years later.

20) Being high just makes me eat a shit load of food. And I think we can all agree that was a skill I didn’t need to work on.

21) Some people think it's acceptable to write Doctor Who fan fiction for a Creative Writing dissertation. True story.

22) You will develop a go-to pre-drink that you’ll never drink again the moment you graduate. Aw Sainsbury’s own vodka and lemonade, you and me had some good times girl.

23) Don't stand still for too long in THAT nightclub. You'll get stuck to the floor and that will be your life going forward.

24) It is a truth universally acknowledged that a carnage t-shirt will not survive the night intact.

25) At some point, you will steal a traffic cone. It’s like a right of passage.

26) Going out dressed as a sheep through the means of wrapping yourself in cotton wool is nothing short of hilarious.

27) It is a lot more acceptable to kiss strangers on a regular basis as a student than any other time of life.

28) Student landlords are pricks by default.

29) Students will get unbelievably inventive when it comes to practical jokes. If only they put that much dedication into their actual degree eh?

30) People who dance like no one is watching are the best kind of people.

31) Some of the very best times were when you were all squashed into a tiny house doing absolutely nothing.

32) It is actually possible to write an essay having not read the book it's about... And still get a first.

33) There is no greater feeling than when your student loan hits your bank account. SWEET JESUS I’M RICH. CHAMPAGNE ALL ROUND.

34) There will be so. many. things you neglect to tell your mum about when you go home for the holidays. Been quite boring really mum. Definitely didn’t throw up in the sink five minutes before going to work. Definitely haven’t been anywhere near illegal substances. Definitely handed all my essays in on time. Uh huh.

35) Sometimes, you will come home to find your housemates drunkenly cooking soup in the middle of the night and you just gotta take it in your stride.

36) You will be covered in so much fake blood during the Halloween night out, you’ll wonder if maybe you have actually seriously injured yourself after all.

37) You will become so used to the most random shit occurring. Yes stranger, there is a chilli hanging from the lampshade, yes he is wearing a sheep mask, yes my bed is entirely covered in post it notes, yes he did come home from a night out with a cat... WHAT OF IT?

38) Yup, there is such a thing as a popcorn party.

39) There’s a reason why you experience student life whilst young. Because if you asked me now if I fancied going clubbing or drinking jagerbombs or not sleeping for 47 hours, I’d probs look at you like you’d just asked me to swim in a pool of spiders.

40) Doesn't matter where you are or where you go, you'll always have a gorgeous view cos Bath is a freakin’ amazing city. No you’re biased.

41) If you’re lucky enough, you will go through those three years with your own little family. Some you’ll remain friends with forever, some may have caused you a lot of heartache and some you may no longer know but actually, you’ll cherish each and every one of them for the rest of your life because what a bloody laugh you had eh?

So much nostalgia <3

9 Jul 2017

Video: Let's go to Corfu...

A video of our trip to Corfu island, Greece

Just a little video from our week in Corfu (more here).

There's a lot of sea views, stray cats, enormous duck/goose/turkey bird things and excessive pastry eating.

Kay, cool, bye.

Where to buy a house?

Musings on where to buy our first house

Part of mine and G’s vague five-year plan involves buying a house. Whilst we’re not planning on moving right now, we have recently started to think about it a bit more because, quite frankly, it’s a bloody big decision.

The first step of the whole big, complicated process is deciding where we want to live. It goes without saying that we can’t afford to buy a house where we are now, as much as we would love to. Good old St Albans is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, with house prices being approx. 8.7 times higher than the average salary…yay. At a push, we might be able to afford a one bedroom flat in a less-than-desirable area but we want a house. Heck, I want a bloody garden.

We knew this when we moved here. We knew our time here was limited even before we’d arrived. The whole point was that we (okay, me) wanted to live in the place we’d (okay, I) always wanted to live, even if it was just for a couple of years. Just for the experience, to know that’d I’d done it. Because life is short and all that. Problem is, when you’re already living in your perfect location (because G now loves it too), how do you decide where to move to next?

So, quick history of where I’ve lived so far: I was born in Sheffield where I lived until I was 9. Then my parents divorced and my mum and step-dad moved down south where I spent the rest of my childhood in a village in Bedfordshire, with regular weekend visits back to Sheffield. I lived in Bath for three years doing the student thing. Then I moved back to the village for two and a half years, although I spent a lot of that in London, before moving to St Albans with G in April 2016.

G’s history: he was born and grew up in Kent, moved to Newcastle for university where he stayed for several years before moving to London for a few more years where he met yours truly. Which was obvs the highlight of his life.

Boom. I’m sure that was thrilling for ya.

The point is, both G and I have lived and had lives in more than one place, meaning our friends and family are a bit dotted about; we don’t really have ‘oh I’ll just pop by tonight’ culture going on with our favourite people because we don’t live that close (I’ve spoken about this before here). We both work in London at the moment and, whilst we’re both definitely open to the idea to not doing so one day, the commute has to be factored in.

FYI, commuting costs will make you do a little sick of horror down yourself. They’re utterly obscene.

We’ve previously considered the option of moving up north because have you seen the difference in house prices?! We’ve not completely ruled this idea out; if a job opportunity arose, I’m sure we’d still consider it. But this option would create the most disruption to our lives. We would both have to find new jobs which is nerve wracking in itself but would also involve a lot of back and forth, and we’d have to do all of that before we could even rent a new place, let alone get a mortgage. And, whilst my Dad and some family live up north, it would mean moving away from nearly all our friends and other family who are all mostly in the south. It would be a completely new life, and it feels a lot to sacrifice just for cheaper houses. As marvellous as a better house for less money would be.

So, at the moment, we’re considering various commutable-into-London areas in the south.

You know what? It’s expensive. Even with savings and a help-to-buy ISA and two full time wages. We’re in an extremely lucky position (believe me, I truly appreciate this) and are still priced out of so many areas. Eff you housing crisis.

We recently did a little Hertfordshire road trip (I know, I know, it’s right at the top of your travel bucket list) and went to Letchworth Garden City, Hitchin, St Neots, Biggleswade and Sandy. Nope, I’d never heard of half of those places either. Some stayed on the ‘potential’ list, some were ruled out the moment we arrived.

Still on our list of places to check out is more of Hertfordshire, places further north (nearer the midlands) as well as bits of Kent.

If you have any suggestions, please shout. In the meantime, I’m gonna gaze out my window at St Albans and pretend I can stay here forever. Kay, bye.

P.S. This is an alarmingly adult post so I just thought I'd rectify that by telling you that I cried 3 times yesterday and made G buy me twirl bites and pink lemonade cos hormones.

3 Jul 2017

June Reads: Let's Talk About Sex

A review of Doing It: Let's Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

The older I get, the more I realise how poor my sex education was at school. My main memories are watching a video of a couple playing tennis naked on a beach and discussing body parts (year 4), being told that the amount of period blood you produce is approximately half a cup (year 5), being taught to put a condom on a cucumber (year 9) and being shown pictures of genitals riddled with STIs (year 12).

So that’s nice. All you need to know right?

Boys and girls were separated (because why would you need to know about the opposite gender during sex?), LGBTQ+ education went about as far as ‘some people are gay’ and I have no recollection of ever being taught about consent.

Still, should I ever decide to have sex with a cucumber, I am PREPARED. No cucumber babies for me, no sir.

Poor sex education has A LOT to answer for. Sex is everywhere and a part of normal, everyday life but a lack of education on it can lead to some awful scenarios.

So, for that reason, Hannah Witton’s (vlogger & author) book, Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex, makes me happy. It’s a non-fiction book aimed at young adults (although I think people of all ages could learn a thing or two) and aims to teach the reader about, you guessed it, sex. It’s funny, informative and encourages a positive and healthy attitude towards sex. Plus, it answers pretty much any question. ANY.

There are SO many topics in this book completely missed off and ignored in sex education lessons and it’s great to see someone having the conversation in such a frank, open and reassuring way. I honestly hope they start handing this book out to kids in school.