Life Rambles: Bank Holiday Life Lately

I do love a bank holiday. It’s the perfect chance to do all the things, or to do nothing at all. These last three and a half days have been lovely. I say three and a half days, because I had Friday afternoon off, which has given me an extra long weekend. I’m pretty sure that going back to work tomorrow will be horrible. Does anyone have a timeturner that I could borrow? Thanks.

I did have grand plans to be super productive in terms of blogging this weekend – I wanted to prep lots of posts and take loads of photos, but that hasn’t happened. In all honesty I’ve been having too much of a good time doing other things. So the blogging has had to wait until now, 4:30 on a bank holiday Monday (although this post will come to you a little later in the week. Because I’m trying to be organised!). Today’s post is a little life lately update about what I got up to over the bank holiday weekend.

So without further waffling here’s what I’ve been up to this bank holiday weekend.

Reading: I started The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on Friday afternoon and it is such a good book! I’ve got one hundred pages to go and I really really just want to sit and read them right now. However I’m not doing that as I want to savour the book too, I don’t want it too be over too soon.

Shopping: It’s a bank holiday so of course I’ve been to Ikea. Fi and I popped in on Sunday afternoon to pick up some picture frames and a bag of meatballs (don’t judge us, they are delicious). We managed to also get a plant and a couple of waste paper bins, but all in all we didn’t go too far off list, which is always a relief. We also found ourselves in Zara and Next after brunch on Monday. Oops! It’s okay though as I limited myself to just £30 of spending (I picked up this, this and this).

Eating: It’s been a pretty good bank holiday food wise too. Aside from the baking, which I’ll discuss later on there’s been brunch at The Breakfast Club – yum! Plus I’ve feasted on this salad and snuck in the odd Snickers ice cream too.

Wandering: I was back in Surrey on Saturday to catch up with friends. We wandered through the woods whilst walking the dog. It was so lovely on the top of the hills with the wind blowing through to cool us down as we walked. We did get a little lost, but we found our way back to where we needed to be, and we just had more time talking instead.

Baking: I made a batch of cookies with some leftover mini eggs on Sunday. I used this favourite recipe and substituted the chocolate chips for mini eggs. They turned into wonderful gooey cookies, which were enormous. If they’re in the house then I will eat them all. Also on Monday I made a batch of my bacon and cheddar muffins ready for the coming week. I figure that way at least my food situation will be sorted, which will make being back to work that little bit less painful.

Gardening: One cliche bank holiday tradition is gardening and I did not disappoint here at all. After a quick trip to the garden centre I was soon out in the garden, doing all the jobs. I mowed the lawn, weeded the flower beds and planted some tomato plants. Plus we now have flowers in our front garden too. Hooray for my green fingers!

Exercising: I only made it on one run this weekend, and it was under three miles, which is a little disappointing. However I’m not beating myself up about it as there’s really no point. Yes I could have done more, but oh well. Here’s to next weekend being better. Also I have done a lot of gardening and a lot of walking, it’s not like I’ve been sitting on the sofa all weekend.

Watching: I’m still making my way through Gilmore Girls, I’m on Season six, so the end is so close! I’ve also started a new documentary on Netflix called The Keepers. I’m only one episode in and I am suitably intrigued by what’s to come.

As you can see it’s been pretty epic. What about lovely lot? What have you been up to this bank holiday weekend? Are you all set for the coming week or is it going to be hard?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: May’s Favourite Online Reads

favourite online reads

It’s been a while since I shared a list of my favourite online reads, in fact it was way back in February! How on earth did three months pass – that’s insanity?! If you didn’t read the original post have a gander over here: Interesting Online Reads. So anyway back on to today’s post. Read on to see some of my recently spotted favourite online reads. You lucky things!

Favourite Online Reads: The Articles

First up we have the interesting articles portion of the list, and link one is a good ‘un. Do you know what 2000 calories looks like at your favourite restaurants and fast food chains? No, me either. But now you do and it is fascinating! Some of the meals are obviously ridiculous, but some I found surprising. What about you, anything shocking on this one?

This infographic makes a really valid point – how useful would it have been to have learnt the importance of failure or simple ideas, or to have been taught how to negotiate while at school. Far more important than surds if you ask me!

Favourite Online Reads: The Blog Posts

Now this might make me a super boring individual but I was very happy to come across this cleaning download over on I Heart Organising. I know, I know, super boring thing to say. But I don’t like my current situ which is to barely clean and then have to spend a whole day doing it as somehow I’m living in a pigsty. This download could be a game changer.

If you’re anything like me and Instagram obsessed you’re probably guilty of following a few million people. But, let me ask you this, how many of the posts you see do you actually like and engage with? I bet if you think about it you’ll realise not that many. That’s what I found when I did a recent Instagram cull and I’m glad I did, why waste my time on things that don’t bring me joy? Hannah discusses something similar in her recent post – she puts it best when she says ‘It’s about the person or the people behind the image’, it’s not about the ‘perfect’ Instagram shot. Preach!

I’m always interested in online marketing tips, so Holly’s recent post about blogs to help you improve your online marketing is most certainly a must-read. Get on that asap!

After reading Sara’s latest post I think it’s safe to say I’m 25% webtrovert. What about you, do you empathise with what she’s saying?

A Beautiful Mess rarely do a blog post that I don’t love, but most recently I particularly enjoyed their dessert dip trio post. I mean seriously, three sweet dips – including cookie dough. A-MAZE-ING!

Favourite Online Reads: From the Twitter/YouTube/Instagram Universe

I stumbled across Lily Pebbles’ vlog about bullet journaling recently and it reminded me just how much I love bullet journaling, despite the rut I seem to have got into with it recently. So now I’m upping my journaling game and reminding myself why I love it. If you have any bullet journal favourite layouts – send them my way!

Did you see the Notre Dame graduates who walked out of their own graduation ceremony in protest of VP Pence this past weekend? I am so proud that people like that exist on this earth. People should stand up for what they believe in, and when it’s a peaceful protest like this was how can you criticise? I think they made their point about Pence quite brilliantly, don’t you? And if anyone is criticising them let us not forget that Pence walked out of a theatre in protest when the cast of Hamilton asked him to show tolerance when he became VP.

I’ve seen a number of people talking about the lovely bedding currently in Matalan and now want it all, particularly this colourful set. Plus there has been a lot of love for this coral Joules bag, I wanted the blue version for my birthday but didn’t get it and now that it’s sold out i seem to have transferred my obsession to the coral version instead. Oops!

So there we have it, my favourite links from around the internet this month so far. What stories and blogs have caught your interest this week? Do share!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #73

For obvious reasons it’s been even more important than normal to focus on the positives this week. My heart broke when I woke on Tuesday to the awful news about the atrocities in Manchester. It’s just so difficult to comprehend something so tragic. Those poor, poor families. It’s been so wonderful to hear the stories of courage and kindness happening in the wake, and during, the traumatic events of Monday night. These amazing human beings are a very important reminder that heroes and goodness exist even in the darkest of times. And that’s point one on today’s list of favourite things over the last week.

Secondly, how nice is this sunshine. I’m loving being able to sit in the park at lunchtime, have the windows flung open as I cook dinner or live in my Saltwaters. It really does make such a difference! Welcome back sunshine and hello summer. Thanks for joining us!

Talking of the glorious sunshine, it’s meant I’ve been able to enjoy the return of my favourite drinks this week – the simple iced coffee. Hallelujah! This week I tried the new Starbucks Iced Cappuccino and so many iced lattes I’m surprised I’ve not turned into one. I’ve even started making my own iced coffees at home. Top tip, make a french presse of coffee, pour into a bottle and leave to cool in the fridge overnight. So, so good first thing in the morning! We wrote about our lovely iced coffee recipe ages ago if you’re tempted to give it a whirl!

If you follow my Instagram then you’ll have seen that on Sunday I had a day in London town with the sisters. The birthday adventure started at Wahaca where we fueled up! And then it was into The Vaults for Alice’s Adventures Underground, an immersive theater experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Seriously it was phenomenal, you MUST go and watch it if you can get tickets. It’s so cool.

So what else has made it to the favourite things list this week? Well one lovely thing that I did this week is an evening of prosseco, pizza and pottery, well minus the prosecco because yuck. Yes on Thursday night I headed back to my hometown for a night of painting pottery and pizza at the local ceramics cafe. There were nine of us in our group, including the sisters, The Mothership and some of our oldest family friends. It was so nice to hang with these guys and have a relaxed and fun catch up. Also, who knew these ladies were so supremely talented – I was seriously impressed!

The final thing on today’s favourite things list is the potential joy that will happen with a three-day weekend! I have quite a chilled one planned and I can’t wait. So far I’ve planned a catch up with my oldest friends that will involve a dog walk and lunch in the garden so we can enjoy the sunshine (and the Pupster) and a much-needed Ikea trip. But apart from that, the weekend is my oyster. Unless I fall down the inevitable Netflix hole of course! Yeah for three days of bliss. What are you up to this weekend, something exciting I hope!

-Fi x

Out and About: Packing for a City Trip

Before we jump in to my top packing tips let us start with a confession. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve felt I’ve got holiday packing down to a fine art. Yes really. I’m clearly a late bloomer in this department as no matter what method I tried I just couldn’t do it. I could never pack outfits that coordinated, let alone the right clothes for the weather, and as for packing everything for a long weekend in hand baggage? I wouldn’t even consider it. Or if I did I’d always end up forgetting something vital or realise, on arrival, that I didn’t have any outfits that actually worked.

And then I turned 31 and it’s like a switch happened in my head. I was suddenly able to pack like a normal person. Miracle of miracles! So in case there are any of you that still struggle with this packing malarkey, or those who just want to refine your packing skills, I thought I’d share my top packing tips with you.

I’m also thinking that my future indecisive self might appreciate this post when I suddenly forget how to pack like a proper, organised human. Let’s be honest we know it’ll happen at some point!

Research, Research, Research!

There’s a reason this is number one on my top packing tips list. Quite frankly it’s absolutely vital. If you don’t know what the weather will be like or what activities you’ll be doing you’ll never pack properly. Also if you’re going on holiday with someone for the first time you need to chat to them and check you’re both on the same page. If they’re all about ticking things off a must-visit list and you’re more about drinks in the sunshine then you need to thrash that out from the beginning, because nobody wants to be walking 20,000 steps a day in just a pair of sandals.

Make Lists

I tend to make multiple lists when I’m packing. The first one is of what special items I’ll need. So do I need a sun hat or a waterproof jacket, or will my running trainers be needed. What about guide books, who is bringing those? Next up you need to make a list of everything you want to pack. I separate my list into clothes, accessories, tech stuff, special items, toiletries and personal stuff. That way things are parked with their counterparts and it’s easier to see if your toothbrush isn’t listed under toiletries. What’s key on the lists is to be VERY specific. If you’re taking four pairs of knickers, write ‘knickers x4’ or if you need a phone charger and a kindle charger make a note of it. Brevity is not key when it comes to lists.

Create a Diagram

Now bear with me here. I know this sounds like a weird tip… But once I’ve got my list I look very closely at the clothes part of it. For each pair of bottoms on my packing list I draw lines to the tops that will work well with it. If an item doesn’t work with multiple other items it gets removed or I switch in a different item that works with it. There are some items that I’ll allow in if they don’t have multiple lines connecting them to other things, I’m talking dresses or fancy shoes. But only if I know I’ll be wearing this item – i.e. there’s an evening event planned, etc.

Stick to Two Clothes Related Rules

I always stick to two clothes related rules when packing as it definitely makes it easier! Rule one, when it comes to clothes packing, is to stick to a certain colour palette. I tend to go for a lot of navy and grey with splashes of colour and stripes. That way everything goes together easily. Another top packing tip, and rule two, is to choose clothes that can be layered easily. That way if it’s colder than you anticipate you’re sorted. Or if you buy too many goodies while away you can wear lots of layers home! Plus items that can be layered tend to be thinner and take up less space in the suitcase. Fact.

Remove Items

Now let’s talk accessories, my rule of thumb? Make your choices and then remove at least one of each item. Let’s be honest you don’t need three bags or six necklaces. So put some back. Bag wise I find a smaller bag and a roomy tote are the way forward – that’ll sort you for most eventualities.

Think Carefully about Extra Stuff

By extra stuff I mean the guide books and reading books, magazines and extra fun bits. First up we have guide books. Firstly find out if there will be wifi where you’re staying? If not you need to pack a guide book, which can take valuable space. But if they’ll be wifi then leave the guide book at home, simply do your final research when you’re there and screenshot everything. Think of the space you’ll save! Book wise think about how much you’ll read. If like me, you’ll get through multiple books then pack your kindle instead. Love magazines? What about downloading one on to your iPad and also getting the Kindle app? That way you’ll have everything you could ever want to read on just one device.

Share Toiletries

Now I know this one sounds weird as people have very specific toiletries needs but if you’re traveling with good friends or family the chances are this will work! Think about it you can probably all use the same shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo for a couple of days. And what about hand cream, most of us can make do using a different brand for a day or so.

Leave Space

Another of my top packing tips? Leave at least a layer on the top of your suitcase that’s empty. You’ll need it for the return journey once you’ve bought all the souvenirs!

So there we go, those are my top packing tips. What tips do you guys swear by?

-Fi x

Out & About: A Weekend in Salzburg

If you read Fi’s Friday Favourites post or if you’ve been anywhere near my Instagram feed then you’ll already know how much I adored my trip to Salzburg. It was everything I wanted out of a city break. It literally ticked all the boxes with its colourful and historic buildings, the gorgeous riverside location below the mountains, and of course delicious food. I mean if you were making a must-have list for a weekend getaway, would your list not include all of these?

I would absolutely love to right a super long post with a play by play account of every little thing that we did, but you’d probably get bored quite quickly. Instead I’m going to pick out my favourite bits of Salzburg. If you do want a play by play then I’ve added an itinerary for each day at the bottom of the page.

The Salzach River

We stayed a little out of the centre of Salzburg and therefore walked along the river into the town each day. There are cycle-ways and footpaths along the flat route and the views towards the town with the mountains behind are glorious. The water is so clear – which I guess is because the water has melted right of the mountains. As we walked the route we saw so many people enjoying the river banks. There were dogs frolicking along the water’s edge, families picnicking and runners and cyclists whizzing by. I wish we’d have had the time to sit and enjoy the view more, I think on my next visit I’ll be stopping for a picnic and taking in the view.

Trick Fountains at Schloss Helbrun

Without giving too much away the trick fountains at Schloss Helbrun are brilliant and well worth a visit when you’re in Salzburg. The fountains are over 400 years old. They were built by Markus Sittikus prince-archbishop of Salzburg to entertain friends and are still used in the same way today. Schloss Helbrun is a little way out of the city, but easy to get to via bus. Helbrun is also home to the summer house from The Sound of Music which can be found in the gardens.

Hohensalzburg Castle

Hozensalzburg Castle sits right above Salzburg, so you can see it from all over the city. It’s the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe and is well worth a visit. There’s a funicular railway up to the castle, which is always fun! Plus all the glass allows you to see the full city spread before you. Once at the top you’re free to wander around the castle, look out at the viewing points and visit the museum. The views of Salzburg and behond are stunning, don’t believe me? Take a look at the photo below and you’ll change your mind. You can also walk up to the fortress, and we saw people doing just that, but we decided that we had walked enough and took the funicular instead.

Mirabell Gardens

The Mirabell gardens are absolutely stunning. There are so many sections of the gardens to discover. From the fountains and formal flowerbeds through to the the orangery, the dwarf gardens and the rose garden. Plus there’s the Sound of Music steps and stunning views past the palace up to Hozensalzburg castle.

Just Wander

One of my favourite things about this long weekend was just wandering around the town. There are so many little alleyways, colourful buildings and views to discover and the best way to do this is to just walk around and see where you end up.

The Food

I’m not even going to apologise for the fact that I’ve included a whole section on the food. In my mind eating locally and discovering what a new city has to offer, in terms of culinary delights, is key. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include that in this case. The one place I wanted to visit before this trip was Cafe Bazar. We didn’t plan a trip, instead we stumbled upon it on Sunday morning, and stopped for an early lunch. The coffee here was divine, and the atmosphere was very chilled out. Plus there was a dog in the corner – living the dream!

We also stopped for cake at Cafe Tomaselli. Here a lady walks around with a silver tray laden with slices of cake, you choose your slice and pay her straight away with cash. The Sachertorte from Cafe Tomaselli was divine. Finally I’d highly recommend a visit to a local beer hall. We were staying near this place, so wandered there on our last night. Apart from actually liking the beer, which is brand new for me, the food was traditional Austrian fare. We opted for sharing everything so that we could try it all, so we went with schnitzel, ribs, wedges, chicken and these spiral potato things that were out of this world.

Untersberg

Untersberg is a mountain that straddles both Austria and Germany. It’s a little out of the city, but only 30 minutes away by bus, so definitely worth a visit. To get up the mountain you take a cable car with 40 other people, which takes just 10 minutes. It’s hideous and I was not a fan, nor was anyone else. Luckily the views are stunning and will help distract from the journey. In all honesty it’s the two times you go over the pylons that are the worst, the rest is manageable. But the pylons make the car rock which is not fun at all.

It’s worth mentioning that the journey down is a lot better. Probably because you know what to expect, or because it will all be over so soon. Either way it’s 100 percent worth the terror. The views from the mountain at the top are simply stunning. You can see so far. One thing to note is that there will be snow, so make sure you are dressed appropriately. I just had trainers and a jumper and was warm enough for a May trip. However we didn’t do the walk to the higher up point because the pathways were so snowy. If you do want to do this, make sure you are prepared.

Writing this up is making me want to book another visit as soon as possible! Who is with me? Have you ever been to Salzburg, and if so what were the highlights of your visit?

Laura x

Day 1 in Salzburg: flight from Gatwick – check in to our apartment – explore the old part of the city – lunch at Cafe Mozart – Salzburg Cathedral – Mirabell Palace and Gardens – afternoon nap – dinner at Gösser Stub’n in the old town.

Day 2 in Salzburg: Headed South of the city to Grodig – Cable car up to Untersberg mountain – Schloss Hellbrun – Hohensalzburg Fortress – Cafe Tomaselli for Sachertorte – river wandering – dinner from the local markets.

Day 3 in Salzburg: lazy start (hooray) – watching the Salzburg marathon – Mirabell Gardens – Cafe Bazar – Panorama Museum – Salzburg Museum – Beer Hall for drinks & dinner.

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #72

Happy Friday Favourites day people! Also we’re over halfway through May. How the fliberty jibbit did that happen? One minute it is Easter and the next you are on your way back from Salzburg and your next holiday is ages away. Woe is me times, hey?! This week has been a quiet one, which has been blissful. After my long weekend in Salzburg and a couple of long work weeks it is exactly what I needed. Once again I’d forgotten the need to schedule in quiet, no plans, time. Often times I feel guilty if I have a quiet week, I feel like I’ll have nothing to share in these Friday Fave posts. Which is silly, because while my week has been a case of wake up, work, home, sofa, dinner, bed, repeat. There have still be snippets of the good stuff in there. Like the fact that I had a swim lane to myself on Tuesday morning. Or that I added some great new music to my Spotify playlist. Or the fact that I ate cereal or toast for dinner two days in a row. Hashtag winning at life.

Fi has been away for most of this week which means I’ve had the house to myself. And it has been lovely. It’s not that I don’t love having a housemate, it’s just that having the house to myself has been especially lovely. No having to time showers in the morning so that you both get out of the house on time. There’s no one to fight with over the TV remote, so if I want to watch five episodes of The Americans in one go then I can. FYI I’m halfway through Season 2 and I’m obsessed!

After doing my daughterly duty on Friday and puppy sitting for the parental units, I stayed down in Surrey for a little longer. Basically I basked in the sunshine in the countryside, read my book and then joined my Dad for a long dog walk. We headed over to the woodlands which are close to my parents house and explored. We went completely off the beaten track for a good 50 minutes and found the most beautiful bluebells. Bluebells are my absolute favourites. The colour of a blanket of bluebells in the woods is just gorgeous, and photos just can’t do it justice.

Next up is the Sunday’s Streatham Kite Festival. I’ve managed to miss this event ever since I’ve lived in Streatham so you can imagine my excitement when I realised that I was around for it. The festival is basically a lot of people flying kites. They’ve got giant kites and professional kite fliers performing too. The common was full of families picnicking and flying kites. There were bouncy castles, stalls selling local produce and bands playing. The fact that it was a super sunny day made it that much more enjoyable too and I was still bemoaning the fact that we’d not brought our own picnic. We watched a couple of the shows; one where a team of two were showing off their kite synchronizing skills and the other where one man flew three kites – it was amazing. I have no idea how either show was possible.

A post shared by Laura Evans (@lau_evs) on

There’s a running joke between a group of my friends that I have a pajama obsession. I’m not even going to dispute that fact, as it’s probably true. What can I say, I love my bed and pajamas are an essential part of that! Anyway I spotted these beauties in Tesco’s over the weekend and I couldn’t resist them. Obviously I purchased them, and I’m adding them to this Friday Favourites list, because when you find good PJs you have to share!

And one more for the Friday favourites list: Riverdale. I finished the last four episodes of this Netflix series this week and it was a spectacular ending. I loved these comics as a kid and I’m pleased to see where the series has gone. Have you watched it? What did you think? Perhaps it’s time to update my favourite boxsets post

How was your week? I hope you had lots of favourite things to keep you going this week. Have a lovely weekend.

Laura xx

Summertime Wishlist

Today I’m sharing a quick wishlist post. I love making these. They allow me to fulfil my love of shopping and browsing online without actually buying anything too much. This blog post was meant to be up and online a few days ago. But I spent the weekend with the puppy, pottering in the garden, watching the kites on Streatham Common and finishing off a good book. And suddenly the weekend was over and I’d not written my wishlist, or any other posts. Oops! Never mind, it’s totally worth the wait, I promise! 

Summer Favourites wishlist

I’m totally in love will all of the items in the wishlist above. I think it’s quite clear that I am once again embracing navy and splashes of red/coral to go along with the other neutral tones. I’m not sure why I’m always drawn to blue and navy, but I’m not going to fight it.

Aren’t the patterns in Cath Kidston just divine right now? The lobster one just makes me smile so much. I’m also eagerly awaiting the latest Disney collaboration too, it’s going to be 101 Dalmations. Please tell me I’m not the only one excited about wearing an outfit covered in cute puppies?!

I’m also currently a proud owner of an M&S voucher which I received for my birthday. Which is exciting, as M&S is winning in the summer clothes department right now. Hence the addition of the shoes, and two skirts above. I’m currently debating between something that will fit into both my work wardrobe and my weekend wardrobe, or something utterly unpractical but holiday perfect. Considering my next holiday is in September, I should probably go the sensible route. 

I’m also trying to hold off on the spending of said voucher for as long as possible, because it makes it that much more exciting when it is eventually spent. Does anyone else do that? I managed to wait four months with my Waterstones vouchers from Christmas. So watch this space and I promise to let you know as, and when I make a purchase.

What are you lovely lot coveting in the shops right now. Do you have a summertime wishlist or a couple of items of clothes that you are dreaming about? Or are you treating yourself in time for your summer holiday? Do share, I’d love to know.

Laura x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #71

Greetings friends! And how are you all? I’ve only had a four-day work week but man has it felt like forty. It’s like the week that wouldn’t end! But thankfully it has and the weekend is here and I am super happy! But, as per usual, before the weekend can properly commence it’s time for a little favourites post. So what’s first on the Friday favourites list I hear you ask?

There’s only one thing that could be top of the Friday favourites list this and that’s our recent trip to Salzburg. We had the best trip. Salzburg is such a beautiful city, steeped in history and with so much to explore. And talk about stunning. From the beautiful pastel buildings to the stunning mountain tops it’s a sight to behold. I adored every corner of it. Oh and of course there’s the delicious food – I can’t tell you how much schnitzel I ate. It was frankly obscene!

The other awesome thing about my amazing Salzburg trip? Getting the chance to spend time proper, quality time, with my family. It was just so lovely to have no other distractions and just spend time together. I lost count of how many times we belly laughed or cried tears of laughter over the four-day weekend. It was simply joyful

As for Friday favourites that don’t relate to Salzburg, first up is a little theater trip. On Wednesday we went to the National to watch Ugly Lies the Bone a 90 minute piece of amazing theater. It’s about a women who returns from her third tour of duty with horrific injuries and looks at how she copes. It’s one of the most intense plays I’ve ever watched and it’s so brilliant. Every element of it was pitch perfect and I implore you to watch it if you can. It’s phenomenal.

This week I finally got round to reading I am Pilgrim and I adored it. Despite it’s 700 pages I’d read it again in a heartbeat. It was a brilliantly crafted spy thriller that slowly unraveled across continents and decades. I was hooked from page one and raced through it. It definitely lives up to the hype around it and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

So there we go, four lovely things that made my Friday favourites list this week. What would make your list?

-Fi x

Out and About: Places to Eat in Oxford

A blog post all about food? Isn’t this the best thing ever? Today I’m sharing a few of the food places Fi and I sampled during our birthday trip to Oxford. When we were planning our trip I looked online for some blog posts detailing places to eat in Oxford, but I came up empty-handed. They just didn’t exist. So here is one for anyone else looking for something similar.

Luckily as part of my planning I sent out SOS emails to friends for a list of things to do and places to eat. And they did not disappoint at all. There’s something about friend recommendations that really help me discover a city. It means that while you can explore and discover, you will always have a back up, just in case.

George & Davis

This place serves the most incredible bagels. I’m talking about bagels that are just as good as the ones you can get in New York. There are a multitude of different fillings to be found, so making a choice was hard. I went with a toasted brie, bacon and cranberry bagel and I am still having dreams about it. G&D also sells homemade ice cream and I highly recommend you get one to enjoy while you wander around the city. I went with a scoop each of vanilla and after eight and I was not disappointed. Both the bagels and the ice cream are a must if you are looking for places to eat in the city that are cheap, quick and tasty.

Thaikun

This is a thai street food restaurant on George Street which has a quirky restaurant and so truly flavoursome food. It’s one of a chain of restaurants, but don’t let this put you off, as the food is really tasty and the cocktails plentiful. I highly recommend getting a starter platter so that you can try a few different things, like the chicken satay and pork dumplings. Oh and get a basket of thai prawn crackers, which come with a huge bowl of chilli dipping sauce.

Paul

Another chain, but this Paul patisserie on the high street is a great place to eat breakfast. The pastries are so good, and the coffee is strong – just how I like it! There’s an upstairs room that gives you a great view of the city, and it’s quiet enough so that you can make plans for the day ahead while you wait for the coffee to kick in and wake you up.

The Grand Cafe

The Grand Cafe sits on the site of the first coffee-house in England, which was way back in 1650. So it’s like a piece of history, right there in Oxford, surrounded by all the other history obviously! It’s a small little shop on the High Street with a crowd of tables. So you’ll need to squeeze yourself into your table space. But it’s got a certain charm to it, with lots of dark wood and a wall covered in mirrors.

We stopped in here mid-afternoon and it was very busy, so we waited 5/10 minutes for a table. We then both opted for the cream tea which gets you two scones with jam and clotted cream plus a tea or coffee. The scones were so good, all light and fluffy and delicious. The sandwiches and the other cake options all looked tasty too and I think if we were there longer we’d probably have nipped back to try them out.

Ben’s Cookies

This is the original location of the cookie shop. We wandered past this place within the covered market, but didn’t stop as we had ice cream plans for later in the day. Plus I work right next to a Ben’s Cookies in London, so I can feast on these all the time. However, if you’re in Oxford and need a sweet treat, then look no further than Ben’s. The cookies are big and soft and chewy and literally melt in your mouth. My favourite flavour is the white chocolate. So good.

Have you ever been to this historic city? What are your suggestions for places to eat and drink in Oxford? You can also read more about our trip to Oxford on last week’s 24 hours in Oxford post.

Laura xx

Out and About: My Favourite Places to Travel

Today’s Friday Favourites post is a little bit different as I wanted to take the opportunity to share my favourite places to travel with you all. I know the normal Friday favourites way is to share parts of my week, but that’s just not going to happen this week. You see I’m typing this on Bank Holiday Monday as I know I’ve got a busy week coming up, but I still want to get a post written for Friday. So a My Favourite Places to Travel post seemed like the next best thing.

Number 1, The Algarve, Portugal

Going to Portugal is a little like going home. It’s a place I go to so often that I feel utterly relaxed as soon as I land. Sometimes the familiarity of a well known, and well loved, place is exactly what’s needed. It means that I know the good lunch spots, I already have a running route and there are pastel de nata all over the place! The other great thing about Portugal is the opportunity for adventures. There are so many corners to explore nearby; from small coastal villages to market towns and trips across the border into Spain. For more details check out this ode to Portugal.

Number 2, New York City, USA

Number two on my favourite places to travel to is New York. I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York City four times and from these trips it has become a firm favourite. I love the hustle and bustle of it, the towering buildings, the wonders of Central Park, the delights of Broadway and the delicious food available on every corner. Check out my Top 5 things to do in New York here and this post on visiting at Christmas time.

Number 3, Wales

A cottage in Wales is the ultimate escape. We had a whole Evans family trip there a few years ago and it was glorious. We had a lovely apartment overlooking the beach and when we weren’t playing board games and reading all the books, we were exploring the Welsh countryside. There were trips on the local steam train, visits to the nearby villages and a magnificent drive through Snowdonia National Park. Definitely one of my favourite trips and something I want to do again in the not too distant future. Wales is so entwined with my childhood and yet I don’t get back to visit nearly enough. I did get to spend a day in Wales last year, which was glorious, I’m hoping to catch up with this lot later on this year.

Number 4, Paris, France

Next on my list of favourite places to travel is Paris. I think jumping on the Eurostar and ending up in Paris two hours later is one of my favourite things. I love the ease and simplicity of it and the fact that you can be strolling along the River Seine in no time at all. Then there’s the croissants, and the macaroons, the gardens at the Musee de Rodin, the views from the Arc de Triomphe and the many splendours of the Musee D’Orsay to explore. You might also like this post with Five Tips to Paris on a Budget from my visit two years ago.

Number 5, Melbourne, Australia

I have family in Australia so it’s another country that I have visited a few times. It’s hard to pick my favourite place, Sydney will always be a favourite because it feels like I know it so well and it’s the same for the towns that my family live in. But if I really had to pick I think my favourite city in Australia is Melbourne. There’s a chilled out, cool vibe to it, that just pulls you into the city and makes you fall in love with it. The streets are lined with amazing art and there are so many wonderful food spots to explore. From Melbourne you can also take a trip to Philip Island to see the penguins, which is truly magical.

So there we have it, a list of my favourite places to travel. What are your favourite places? Do you have trips that you take more often than others, or a favourite retreat that keeps you sane?

Laura xx