Life: A Foodie Weekend in Suffolk

Booked as a post-exam relaxing break, this wasn’t planned to be a foodie weekend. Obviously as massive lovers of good food we’d earmarked a restaurant or two we wanted to try, but we’d overlooked the fact that Suffolk is a county producing so much yummy stuff.  Every single thing we ate over the weekend was delicious, everything seemingly fresh and local. We found some real gems and I couldn’t help but share!

Our base for the weekend was the absolutely gorgeous Five Acre Barn, just down the road from Aldeburgh. Newly opened, it manages to combine modern with cosy perfectly. Think polished concrete floors, with fully-controllable under-floor heating. Think plywood, but combined with soft and luxurious bedding and blankets. The bath was an utter delight, and the bed so insanely comfortable I genuinely had to be restrained to avoid stealing the pillow. Bruce and David were the perfect hosts (and Ruby the Visla of course!), with Bruce’s breakfasts being the best B&B ones I’ve eaten. Creamy scrambled eggs, huge full English’s and a gorgeous hollandaise were all on the menu over the weekend.

Dinner on our first night was a recommendation from my parents – Sutherland House in Southwold. A little pricey than others in the area, we still spent less than £80 on a three-course (plus amuse-bouche) meal with wine for the non-driver (#winning). I enjoyed the best scallops I can remember, served with a glorious combo of pork belly, black pudding, apple and cauliflower. I stayed on the fish-theme with my main, ordering the Parmesan Crusted Salmon with Potato Soufflé. The salmon was a tad overcooked (possibly a victim of the massive portion), though the soufflé was a revelation and something W is going to recreate for me next date night! W was equally impressed with his meal, though admittedly we were both slightly put off by the serving of frozen grapes with his cheese board (both a fan of frozen grapes, but not at the expense of cold cheese) I finished with a perfect chocolate fondant, then fell asleep on the way back to the B&B…

The next day was spent exploring. We wandered aimlessly around the streets and beaches of Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, popping into local delicatessens and drinking apple juice pressed before our very eyes. We’d heard mention of “amazing doughnuts” over breakfast (it’s communal dining at Five Acre, a concept I loved). Obviously those two words were enough to encourage a drive over to Orford.

I want to live in Orford.

Orford is a tiny village, so picturesque. Full of old cottages with plants snaking up the walls, surrounded by gorgeous countryside and the peaceful quay. It’s also home to some of the best foodie spots I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. There’s highly recommended pubs and restaurants, there’s the award-winning smoking house. But the star of the show is Pump Street Bakery. I’ll be posting a full review in the next few weeks, but if you’re in the area? Go. We drove back the next day so we could take bits home with us!

That night we’d had a bit of a fail with booking a table at the closest pub, so instead ate Fish & Chips in the dark on the beach. Every bit as romantic as it sounds – until you get the tell-tale drip from your nose that vinegar and cold air seems to cause!

Some local cider (and a bag of Peanut M&Ms) in bed, then I slept for longer than ever before. Bliss.

Reluctantly checking out, we detoured back to Orford to load up the car with as much as we could, before heading to Southwold. The weather let us down, with the wind so strong the pier was closed and our ears ached. We spent far too long in the Adnams shop, purchasing their own gin. We explored local galleries, picked up some Suffolk Salami (fortunately this is available in Wholefoods, as Sainsbury’s own is no longer cutting it for me…). We lunched at Fifty One Cafe, where my Smoked Haddock Gratin hit the spot perfectly. Warming and comforting, plenty of cheese, and a really tasty beetroot salad (and 4 cups of tea!) to accompany. W’s Celeriac Soup was also hugely enjoyed.

With that, we started the long journey home – it took us two hours to get from near Canary Wharf to Putney (just under 10 miles!) so we were glad of the Pump Street Doughnuts we’d bought!

Suffolk was such a delightful county, and one I really wish we’d visited sooner. We know we’ll definitely be back!

Have you ever visit Suffolk? Where do you think is best for foodies in the UK?

Lifestyle: Different Things to do in London

It’s official, I have fallen completely and utterly in love with London. I was enjoying living down in the Big Smoke, but it took my trip up to the Midlands at Christmas to make me realise just how much I love our capital. And other than waxing lyrical about my love for the city, I’ve decided it’s the perfect timing to pen up some of the underrated areas I’ve found over the last few months.

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A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Wander Around Victoria

During my placement year I spent hours in Victoria Station (as I’m sure many of those who rely on Southern rail have!). I only wish I’d ventured outside and down the road before now, I didn’t realise quite how Instagrammable the streets of Victoria and Pimlico are! Plus it doesn’t hurt that both Peggy Porschen and Dominique Ansel are so close!

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Ride the “Olympic Slide*”

Way back in December I was invited to Stratford to ride the Arcelor Mittal Orbit. At nearly 180m it’s the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide – and when they say it’s tall, it’s bloody tall! It takes around 40 seconds to descend the slide, circling around the ArcelorMittal Orbit 12 times through loops and curves, including a tight corkscrew section that definitely got a few screams out of me!

It’s pretty pricey (full disclosure here – I was invited to slide free of charge, but we picked up a ticket for W using his student discount) at £15 per adult, but the views are pretty good, and the slide both exciting and scary in pretty equal measure. Plus it was an excuse to have a quick wander around the Olympic Park, having only visited way back in 2011 on a Geography field trip when it was still a muddy building site! I only wish it hadn’t been quite so foggy on the day we went up, though I quite like the atmospheric pictures I managed to take.

Oh, and there’s now also the change to abseiling down the structure. I’m hugely tempted!

Indulge in Creme Egg Delights on the Southbank

I got super-excited when I first ventured out of the house on the 27th December – because sat by the tills in Waitrose were the Creme Eggs! I haven’t succumbed to the temptation quite yet, but I guarantee I’ll be getting my fix soon. There’s nothing like feeling sick on the sugar overload that is a Creme Egg!

And even more excitingly – the Cadbury Creme Egg Café is back (with a twist!) and this time it’s touring the UK. The Cadbury Creme Egg Hunting Lodge will include a takeaway with an offering of gooey Creme Egg S’mores to-go, with some extra treats if you’ve got enough time to stop awhile. The Lodge will be visiting London, Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh – unfortunately tickets have sold out but there’s limited space for walk-ins. I know I’ll be queuing!

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Walk Between Kensington & Knightsbridge

One of my favourite walks goes from Imperial College, through cobbled streets (lined with the prettiest multi-coloured cottages), coming out just down the road from Harrods. I can indulge several passions in one short trip. Taking Instagram shots of houses, window shopping (shoes are my latest obsession – I’m desperately hunting down the perfect wedding shoes) and browsing some of my favourite homeware boutiques.

I’d also highly recommend a trip to the (free!) Design Museum if you’re in the area. Be warned though, it’s quite tight for space around the exhibits and I’ve heard it’s packed at weekends!

Planning on visiting one of my favourite London places of 2016 today – Spitalfields Market. Perfect for a rainy Sunday!

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

Get Spendy in Spitalfields

Another one of my favourite places to spend a Sunday afternoon – particularly if it’s raining as other than the short walk from Liverpool Street you’re pretty much undercover the entire time. It’s full of quirky buys (I’m class it as the ‘grown-up’ Camden – though I love Camden just as much), vintage stalls, leather wares, upcoming fashion designers, beauty boutiques, more homeware stores and glorious smelling food popups.

I took a trip with one of my best friends during January and we had the best time browsing, lusting over bits and bobs for our future houses and hunting down a new coat for me. It does’t help that Kontidor and Cook have their store nearby, they make the best brownies…

These are just a handful of some of my favourite bits and bobs to do in London – there’s so much more I have to see (Portobello Market and Kew Gardens are high on my list!).

What are your favourite things to do in London?

Lifestyle: Notes to my Fellow Commuters

I’ve been doing my daily commute for just under three months now. It’s not a part of the day I particularly enjoy; I pretty much despise the tube, despite having a relatively ‘easy’ journey. But one thing that has made it bearable is the opportunity to people-watch – I’m such a nosy lady! Over the last month or so I’ve been jotting down humorous notes from my commute, purely because I couldn’t bear not to share them on here!

So, ladies and gents, mind the closing doors and welcome to the life of my commute…
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To the Lady with the Earphones

Please be so kind as to NOT run for the train again. For one, you clearly weren’t going to make that train. And two, if your earphone hadn’t gotten caught inside the train, with you on the platform, you wouldn’t have to continue running along the platform attached to the train. If that does happen, please be so kind as to detach your earphones from your phone. You know, the easier option. Rather than wait for someone to hit the emergency stop buttom.

You found your misfortune hilarious that morning. What you don’t seem to understand is that for all those people on that packed train, and the people waiting for the City-bound train behind it, you delayed us all for half an hour. So please, don’t run for the train again.

To the Man Reading an Erotic Novel

Just no. And if it makes 50 Shades look like a fairytale, no, no, no, no, no!

I admit I should probably stop glancing over people’s shoulder to see what they are doing (discreetly, I must add, and only on this particular occasion because I’d left my Kindle on the sofa at home). But what I don’t need to see are a few, ahem, naughty words. What I really don’t need hear after seeing this is your heavy breathing. Please leave it until you’re home.

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To The Tube Network (TFL I guess!)

I honestly don’t mind if there are severe delays, as long as I know about them. Being on the platform for 30 minutes with no tube and no explanation isn’t fun. Being stuck halfway to work, unable to go towards work, unable to go backwards to an alternative route, is even worse. If I know that the District Line isn’t going to get me to work on time, I have plenty of options – including one that gives me this view. Far nicer than a sweat armpit (joys of being short!), I’m sure you’d agree…

To The Tourists at The Barriers/Escalators/Doors

Please refrain from getting your map out and checking it whilst blocking the way for people who do know where they are going. Please don’t stand and have a conversation just outside the ticket barrier. I apologise if I bump into you, but if you stand directly in the way there often isn’t enough room to get around you at rush hour.

To The Teenagers on Halloween Weekend

It was 11.30am. It was cold. You were already drunk, very scantily clad (what’s wrong with a ghost costume?!). I appreciate I sound like a moaning minnie here, and actually I don’t mean to be. I’m just very impressed at their dedication to Halloween.

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To All Those Who Saw Me Struggle & Looked Away

One thing that has really surprised me has been the amount of guys, usually in their twenties/thirties, who will offer a seat to any females before sitting down themselves. Yes, feminists may be outraged, but I kind of like this old-fashioned chivalry.

Now, let me get one thing clear before I start this rant; I don’t expect to be given a seat. I don’t have a disability, I’m certainly not pregnant, there are many people who normally need a seat before I do. I will always offer my seat up if I feel someone needs it more.

But the other day I clearly could have done with a seat, or a hand, or just some extra space. My study materials had been delivered and I was carrying a very heavy (with weight printed on the side of the box), very awkwardly sized box. It was very difficult to hold, being bigger in circumference than my arms could reach. I managed to get a seat straight off and was unbelievably grateful. Then a heavily pregnant women got on. No-one offered her their seat, so I did. She saw the box on my lap and tried to say no. Still no-one offered her a seat. In the end, she took my seat. I have no problem about that, I don’t really have a problem that the other passengers saw me struggle to stand with said box and continued to ignore it. What I took objected to was the man, who saw me give up that seat, dart in and claim it when the pregnant lady left. Thanks mate.

To Cross-Word Man

There’s a guy I see almost every morning who sits and does the crossword in whatever newspaper he picks up each day. By the time he gets off the tube he invariably has finished it – utmost respect to this man from someone who has never finished a crossword yet.

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To The Bum-Squeezers

I’d read a couple of Rachel’s posts about sexual assault on the Tube before, but still had quite a naive attitude towards it. Since September, I’ve had my bum squeezed on no-less than three occasions. I’ve not managed to catch anyone at it yet (they’ll get an earful), but apparently this is acceptable behaviour.

This is one of the reasons why I prefer to get a seat. At least then no-one can grab my ass.

 photo Daily Commute 5_zpsfl9hmy4h.jpgAnd that is just the result of a few short months commuting from Putney to City. I’m sure they will be a lot more over the coming years, as a shorter commute is unlikely to ever be viable (because I like living on the outskirts – I get a seat!). I have to admit it’s nicer that my previous commute from last summer. And hey, at least these amusing moments lighten up the identical journey, day after day…

PS – all of the pictures within this post were shot on my weekday commute – with the exception of the Putney Bridge one. Because trust me, the platform is NEVER that empty on a weekday! And in the week between scheduling this and getting it live – there’s been a guy with a portable DVD player (I’d forgotten they existed!) alongside a stack of 10 DVDs, and the hilarious platform guy usually found in Victoria was working at Monument. He definitely brightened up my journey home!

Do you have a long commute? Any funny stories to tell?

Lifestyle: Playing Tourist in London

Playing tourist in what is now our home town felt a little strange at first; dashing around London sight-seeing. The day was born out of us not having a clue what to do – one of the weirdest things about finishing our LDR and moving in together is not making weekend plans in advance.

 photo Playing Tourist in London 11_zpsjpyqk6dw.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 2_zpsqbehmdkg.jpgI decided that I’ve never seen Big Ben close-up (and also thought I’d get a good Instagram shot, #lifeofablogger). Will wanted to go further down the Thames to take some snaps of the architecture for uni. Taking a riverboat tour was the perfect answer – and despite it being the first chilly day of Autumn, it was a good shout. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t feel my hands by the time we got off the boat, and a steaming cup of tea was pretty much all I could think about. Moaning aside, I loved the tour we went on. It was the cheapest option we found from Westminster Pier (I’m still a student at heart!) and didn’t include a specific tour guide. What it did include, however, was boat staff who knew the interesting little titbits such as where scenes in Oliver Twist were filmed, and that the Spinx around Cleopatra’s Needle are actually the wrong way round from what was intended.

 photo Playing Tourist in London 13_zpsqyucwb7k.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 14_zpsnd8fesra.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 12_zpsmwlpkbt6.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 10_zpsuktddrbn.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 8_zpszcqsyg6v.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 7_zpsv9v0lrlz.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 6_zpsbieszkcc.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 5_zps2mqj8psk.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 4_zpsggzeoffk.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 9_zpspy3agve2.jpgOne thing I loved about taking a boat along the Thames was the different perspective I got of the city. It was so obvious how London is a mix of old and new, yet that’s something that’s totally overlooked when I’m wandering around on a daily basis. I couldn’t believe how traditional the buildings in the City were at the waterfront, compared to the modern Walkie Talkie and Cheesegrater. I could also see my own office – I wasn’t aware how tall the building was until I saw it from this perspective!

 photo Playing Tourist in London 18_zpsrxgsyu0k.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 20_zpsda3es6pt.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 19_zpsen3srmyc.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 17_zpsmw1ijlhb.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 16_zpshpr70r8w.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 15_zpszukwryii.jpgWe got the boat all the way to Greenwich, where we stopped for a quick picnic underneath our umbrella. I feel in love with the bit of Greenwich I saw, and have popped it high on the list for returning to on my next spare weekend (the food market looked insane!). I can imagine it’s pretty magical in the run-up to Christmas too…

 photo Playing Tourist in London 23_zpsfw6g13ce.jpg photo Playing Tourist in London 28_zpskn4nzbd6.jpgOur tourist-ing continued the following weekend, with us heading to Camden for a spot of shopping and street-food eating. We decided to make the most of the unexpectedly warm and sunny day (seriously, it was NOT forecast, but greatly appreciated!) and walk along the canal from Kings Cross. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite walks in London, especially as it involves walking through the spot where W popped the question.

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Ice-cream Cookie Sandwich anyone…? Cheers @blutopicecream for my new addiction!

A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on

 photo Playing Tourist in London 27_zpstyzazpj1.jpgWe lunched on Korean Burritos (him) and Fried Chicken & Chips (me) – a decision I did come to regret an hour of so later as my stomach apparently doesn’t love SFC as much as I do. I’m gutted as it meant I couldn’t quite appreciate my Ice-Cream Sandwich as much as I wanted. Guess there’s an excuse to head back…!

I’ve loved playing tourist in London, sure the hoards of actual tourists are annoying (I got jammed against a wall at one point whilst a group were trying to get by, not a highlight of the weekend!), sure there are other European cities that are far prettier. But if definitely made me a bit more appreciative of London, and I’ve now got plenty of other spots on my bucket list to tick off. Kew Gardens is next (thanks Katy for that bit of London based wander-lust!)…

What’s your favourite spot in London?

Lifestyle: A Few Days in the Lake District

A photo-heavy post, this! I originally wasn’t going to blog about my team-building trip to the Lake District. I didn’t take my camera, I was covered in mud the vast majority of the time, hell I didn’t even take any makeup other than mascara! I took a few snaps on my phone, did the obligatory Instagram shots – and then couldn’t not share. Turns out my phone camera can take some pretty good photos when it feels like it!

 photo Lake Windermere 11_zpsmo8exmkq.jpg photo Lake Windermere 8_zpsn8huxbhd.jpg photo Lake Windermere 12_zpsazsowzfg.jpg photo Lake Windermere 7_zpsumylgcoi.jpgWith no information bar “take clothes you don’t mind getting wet and muddy” I did spend a good chunk of summer stressing about it, and the best part of £50 stocking up on Primark jogging bottoms and t-shirts. In the end it wasn’t *too* terrifying. Sure, I freaked out whilst climbing a bloody tall tree, y arms ached from canoeing (across Lake Windermere, no less) for days after. I was sleep-deprived, full of cold, and stuffed far-too-full of delicious food (full fry-ups, hot lunches and three course dinners, plus cheese and biscuits – I’m glad I wasn’t trying to squeeze my ass into a skinny jeans!). But it was a damn good break.

Of course, it helped we were in beautiful, stunning surroundings. We were around 100 yards from the shoreline of the Lake, which was serenly misty in the early mornings. I developed the habit of taking my first cup of tea on a short wander, pre-breakfast, which was when most of the photos were taken. If I’m honest, I’m gutted I didn’t take my phone canoeing (because clumsy). The weather we had that afternoon was perfect, hot, sunny, blue skies. The other side of the Lake was just as picturesque. It’s only a shame my phone didn’t manage so well in low no light situations – we went on a 10pm hike up a ‘mountain’ one evening. The stars were breathtaking – you just don’t get a sight like that in London!

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 photo Lake Windermere 15_zps69fhwrlp.jpg photo Lake Windermere 13_zpsfnwylbgj.jpg photo Lake Windermere 2_zpshl2hky9s.jpgFYI, based on previous attempts, I knew I couldn’t rock climb. I’ve never managed to get much further than a couple of moves up a wall, my upper body strength was nil. So when I saw the very tall tree, complete with rock-climbing bits hammered in, and the bell at the top we had to ring, I said “no way.” For me, knowing I would fail, knowing that a whole group of people would see me fail, I couldn’t do it. A lot of encouragement later, I gave it a go. To my surprise, after a bit of coaching from the instructor, I shot up the first half. I began to realise I COULD rock climb. So I looked down. And realised I had a fear of heights. But I managed to pull myself together, I managed to carry on, I managed to ring that bell – and let me tell you, it was the sweetest sound I’d heard in a while.

 photo Lake Windermere 9_zpsbi0hrsyz.jpgI’ve never quite made up my mind about whether I’m a city girl or a country-bumpkin, and this trip definitely didn’t help to make that decision. I love London, love the hustle and bustle, I’m ‘dazzled by the bright lights of the city.’ But I love the fresh air, the scenery, the quietness of the countryside.

Are you a country-lover or city-person? Have you ever been to the Lake District?

 

Travel: Summer Getaway in Brighton

Remember the “heatwave” of July? It might seem like a while ago now, but that week of rather warm whether than had everyone moaning they were too hot, rail tracks buckling, cars overheating? By some rather random (and greatly appreciated) stroke of luck, it coincided exactly with the holiday myself and W booked to Brighton.

 photo Brighton_zpsw5gnjwsu.jpgWe’d originally planned a road-trip around Scotland, but with myself not having learnt to drive, wanting to sell the car and limited funds, we decided a quick getaway to one of our favourite UK places would do the job. We hoped for good weather, we made rainy-day plans. And we lucked out! The weather was perfect right up until five minutes after we got on the train on our journey home; swelteringly hot, bright blue skies. Just right for a seaside break.

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Staying at The Kelvin (clean, comfortable, if nothing to right home about – other than it was relatively cheap for our dates!) we were virtually on the beachfront, a few minutes walk away from the Sea Life Centre. It made for an excellent base; we could trot to the beach in the mornings, we were close to a couple of decent-sized supermarkets for picking up snacky lunches. It was only a short stroll to the Pavillions and the restaurants nearby. I discovered the joy that is Franco Manca – I ate their tomato-free courgette pizza twice in four days. It’s unbelievably good! And best of all? A gorgeous Italian Gelato shop on the corner. It brought back memories of Rome, with the ice-cream being some of the best I’ve had in the UK. I had several combos (chocolate & hazelnut, chocolate & orange, blueberry & raspberry) and quite honestly wouldn’t be able to pick a favourite. The Kitkat flavour looked pretty awesome though!

 photo Brighton July 2016 19_zpsogb4ns6f.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 3_zpsedqkys3j.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 2_zpsk5wuwxcz.jpgWe spent a day lazing on the beach. I read a whole book and had a good nap. We snacked on a rotisserie chicken and tzatziki. Hired a couple of beach chairs and a parasol. Chased the parasol down the beach following a sudden gust of wind. Got a hand full of splinters from said deckchairs (me). Paddled in the sea. An highly successful beach day, all washed down with a good old Fish’n’Chips, and a rather strong Espresso Martini.

 photo Brighton July 2016 12_zpsxh0dblrb.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 11_zps6t0wezxa.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 10_zpsva20wn6o.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 9_zpsz4sbva5x.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 8_zpsumtbyjgq.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 5_zps6nabonu1.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 4_zpsvk2bgpcn.jpgAnother day was spent being a bit more active. We strolled round the Sea Life Centre in the morning (finding Nemo and Dory in the process), before getting the mini electric train up to the marina for a quieter beach picnic – we’d eaten most of it before realising we were perhaps a tad overdressed for the section of the beach we were on. Oops! We took the train back, I triumphed at mini-golf despite a shaky start, and ate ice-cream. We then perhaps overindulged with burgers, onion rings, mac’n’cheese and alcoholic milkshakes. No regrets!

Our final full day was shopping day. I spent an embarrassingly long few hours underwear shopping, getting remeasured at Bravissimo then hunting down a rather difficult new size in Debenhams, Ann Summers, Boux Avenue and every bra-selling shop I could find. Making it up to a rather grumpy W, we snacked on sausage rolls, ate more ice-cream and wandered the lanes. There were so many cute and quirky house bits I was desperate to buy, but with no flat sorted at the time I just couldn’t justify it. There’s the excuse to head back for another trip…

 photo Brighton July 2016 16_zpsajs7n4g1.jpg photo Brighton July 2016 18_zpsir446ahw.jpgWe spent our final morning squeezing in another sunbathe, another stroll down the pier, another play on the two-penny slots. Then it was back to reality with a bang, back to trying to find flats to rent, work clothes, back to adulting. Safe to say, we need another holiday already!

Where did you holiday this year? Where in the UK do you recommend for a short break?

Lifestyle: Hidden Corners of Canterbury

It’s really hard to believe that after four years, my time in Canterbury is over. Whilst I’m lucky in that it’s easy enough to get to over the next few years (though I’d like to think I’ve spent enough time on the High Speed line!), I can’t imagine myself visiting all too often. With that in mind, I spent some of my last days in city exploring, finding hidden gems I had no clue were there.

 photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 11_zpsoxfru9cm.jpgI’ve already written about our trip on the river, one of Canterbury’s Historic Riverboat Tours, and that was the perfect was to start finding some of the hidden gems. It introduced us to a gorgeous, completed secluded area of the city that I won’t share on here (for fear of spoiling the secret – and my camera battery ran out!), however there are some easier to find, just as lovely areas of Canterbury.

 photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 24_zpsn154drhs.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 1_zpsjn1dncd7.jpgThough of course, I couldn’t not get a few shots of my favourite view. Looking over the cathedral from the university campus was (perhaps a little shamefully!) one of the reasons why I chose Kent University – it’s a stunning view over the city. For students at UKC, the best view is from a stair window inside Rutherford College, but there are so many. It always irked me that sunset was the other side of the hill – could you imagine it behind the cathedral?!

 photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 4_zpsvv5j9xud.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 5_zpsdm3ninpg.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 2_zpsnqc3d1yd.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 3_zpsxuu5ieol.jpgAbbotts Mill in the city centre quickly became one of my favourite spots – quiet, yet just a two-minute walk away from the crammed main street. Plenty of green space to sit and listen to the crashing water, it felt like a millon miles away from the busy shopping area.

 photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 6_zpsrhasjbfj.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 8_zpsayycut4a.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 13_zpsjwoj41mp.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 11_zpswnsn02og.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 12_zps62ybqjjy.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 9_zpsxdtx5jix.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 7_zpsluzoqa3k.jpgAround the corner is a few statues and sculptures, there’s gorgeous little cottages and terraced houses. Part of me wishes I’d lived closer to the city centre in one of my later years at university; some of these houses are student lets. How lovely do they look?!

 photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 20_zpsepy31i3k.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 19_zpsyycy6snu.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 17_zpshugkt2lf.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 16_zpsi1hnpctj.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 18_zpsqpkvwudu.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 22_zpsmcbxnjku.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 15_zps9qr2osdj.jpg photo Hidden Corners of Canterbury Kent 14_zps7qgdcg7t.jpgThen there’s Westgate Gardens. Stunning flower beds, punting boats bobbing in the river, historical buildings popping up seemingly out of nowhere. Again, it’s hard to imagine you are pretty much in the middle of a (admittedly very small) city.

If I am at all honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Canterbury City in general. I hated how busy it always was, how I was always having to dodge groups of tourists. I found the shops to be a weird mix – with no Primark up until a couple of years ago, and perhaps the smallest New Look in existence. But I did love the little hidden gems I found. I loved the Cathedral adding something special. I loved the little side streets filled with independent shops. And I know that, despite its frustrating popularity, I will miss Canterbury.

Have you ever been to Canterbury? What’s your favourite UK city?

Lifestyle: Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour

When I first visited Canterbury, an unbelievable five years ago (I can’t believe my little baby sister starts going on university open days next year – where has the time gone?!), one of the first things I noticed was the river winding around the city. And the numerous boat tours along it. I remember saying how lovely it seemed, how I’d definitely make time to do one of those.

 photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 17_zpsbrdnzze5.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 16_zpsbmieaaui.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 2_zpstif4oweq.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 1_zpsvlrz3qqf.jpgAnd guys, I finally managed it. The day before I moved out of my final year house. Nothing like leaving it until the last minute.

All I can say is that I am so, so glad I made the time to do this. What I was imagining to be a rather wasteful use of money turned out to be a hugely enjoyable 45 minutes. Our guide (Rob, the guy with the beard, if you’re wondering!) was hilarious and hugely knowledable about Canterbury. He managed to tailor his talk to be entertaining to us two as students, and the slightly more mature audience making up the rest of the boat.

 photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 5_zpsqowg2ddb.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 3_zpsfyraarnt.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 6_zpsasbxirp4.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 8_zpsh4509gne.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 9_zpsjzfqqvhr.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 13_zpsafyqgxil.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 15_zpsesg2pk8x.jpg photo Canterbury Historic Riverboat Tour 18_zpskh30q1z8.jpgWe ducked under extremely low bridges, found areas of Canterbury I didn’t know existed, talked about the best pubs in the city, came too close to comfort to some nesting pigeons, said hi to some ducks. We had the most gorgeous view of the cathedral, floated adjacent to Abbott’s Mill. We passed restaurants, gardens, sculptures and many other boats. We went under the main high street. And yet it never felt as though we were in a crowded area, never felt like we were in the middle of Canterbury.

It may be a little pricey, but the Historic Riverboat tour is something I truly loved. I’d also highly recommend trying to get Rob as your guide/driver – he had us in stitches, not least when watching him try to duck under the lowest bridges of the journey. I learnt things about Canterbury I wish I’d known earlier, located places I’d have loved to have visited more.
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But most of all? This was the perfect way to round off my time in the city. It provided some of the most stunning views of Canterbury, showed off the best and most gorgeous parts of the city, and got us away from the hustle and bustle of the high street. I fell back in love with Canterbury, remembered why I’d chosen to come to university there.

Disclaimer – we were paying customers, I just loved it enough to post about it!

How do you like to explore a city?

Lifestyle: Exploring Kent

It took me a while, but I finally think I’ve gotten a bit more about the fabulous county where I went to university. Get me – past tense about university because I am now officially a graduate! Me and W decide to make a mini-break out of packing up and cleaning my final year house – so we took a few days extra and made the most of having no lectures, no coursework, no exams and a car to get around.

 photo Exploring Kent 13_zpshu2vhddu.jpg photo Exploring Kent 14_zpsujztzbpy.jpg photo Exploring Kent 11_zpslbzewduy.jpg photo Exploring Kent 10_zpsegnoxxy7.jpg photo Exploring Kent 7_zpsbxahskz8.jpgOn the first day we approached Canterbury at lunchtime, hungry, hot and a little grumpy. There was only one solution – driving straight into Whitstable, parking up, filling up with food and sitting on the beach. The day was glorious, with Whitstable being one of my favourite beachside spots. Something about the waves crashing against the stones is so soothing to the soul.

With W not being a fan of Fish’n’Chips (I know…) and our previous favourite eatery no longer in business, we set about finding food. Stumbling across a sandwich shop, we found a bit of a hidden gem. My Roast Beef & Mustard sandwich was divine. Tender and rare roast beef, just the right amount of English mustard, good seeded bread. Will was equally pleased with his Ham & Cheese choice.

 photo Exploring Kent 15_zpsrdeqocrf.jpg photo Exploring Kent 2_zps0vixvevw.jpg photo Exploring Kent 4_zps6cyaxwfw.jpg photo Exploring Kent 3_zpsaogs6qko.jpgThe next day we travelled out towards Margate. I’d heard a lot of good things about this seaside town from other bloggers, plus my Nan visits regularly and raves about it. But, honestly? I was hugely disappointed! Maybe I was missing something, but the highstreet was like any other slightly grimy highstreet in the country, the beach was quite dirty with rubbish and it was all a bit ‘meh.’ Dreamland had clearly been done up nicely on the inside, but ride prices are high and it just didn’t seem worth it. We did have a ball of a time playing the two-penny slots though!

Moving on we drove around to Broadstairs, a slight improvement being a more traditional seaside time. As we parked up there was a massive flash, a crack of thunder and the heavens opened. Que eating our picnic whilst sat in the car! Eventually we ventured out under an umbrella, watched the Armed Forces Day parade, had a mooch and a wander, then retreated rapidly when the sky blackened again. I didn’t even manage to grab an ice-cream!

The day ended with a quick trip to Westwood Cross, a shopping complex that even managed to impress W. I picked up my first maxi-dress and finally hit an NYX stand.

 photo 2016-06-26 12.39.37_zpsvpyhbgir.jpgThe next few days were spent in Canterbury, completely exploring, finding some lovely hidden gems and finally, finally going on a boat tour. It honestly was the most delightful little break, the weather treated us relatively well (look at the gorgeous blue skies!) – a nice end to my time in Kent!

Was there anywhere super-special I missed in Kent? I’d love to go back for a long weekend in a year or so, so hit me with some suggestions!

Lifestyle: A Day in Deal

There’s nothing I love more than being by the sea. I’ve no idea where my love of the coast came from; growing up as far inland as you can get in the UK meant it was reserved to a couple of times a year, usually in the winter. Yet still nothing calms me down more than wandering along the coast listening to the waves crashing against the beach.

 photo A Day in Deal 3_zpsx6w4oiwr.jpg photo A Day in Deal 2_zpsyaqit8vi.jpg photo A Day in Deal 1_zpssrqusrrz.jpgWhen W forced me to take some time out a few weeks back, he put me in the car and we drove out of Canterbury and towards the Kentish coast. We usually head towards Whistable; 10 minutes away and lovely, but we fancied something different. Deal was somewhere I’d heard mentioned a few times, so Deal it was!

A strange little town, it was a very odd combination of absolutely delightful independent shops and bakeries, right next to discount chain stores. Disconcerting, though I can imagine in five or so years it will be the most wonderful bohemian seaside town!

We wandered along the pier, turning back to discover the loveliest view of the seafront.

 photo A Day in Deal 7_zps7oneqaxh.jpg photo A Day in Deal 4_zpss8rwzcwj.jpg photo A Day in Deal 6_zpsw8hbsf4p.jpg photo A Day in Deal 5_zps8msojubx.jpgWe sat on the beach and chattered to each other, skimming stones and enjoying the almost warm sun.

We strolled up to the castle, but decided the extortionate entry fee for not a particularly exciting castle wasn’t happening.

We gorged on burgers and many sides. Wandered some more. Sat on the beach some more. Treated ourselves to ice-cream.

We wandered around the many lanes that Deal seems to have, some of them reminding me of the posh parts of London almost.

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Other than the fish-and-chips, it was your quintessential day out at the good ol’English seaside. And it was the perfect day. It cleared my head, it got the sun on my skin, and it made me realise how important getting some good fresh air is. It also reignited my love for the sea, and now I’m determined to visit more often…

Are you a fan of the English seaside? Have you ever been to Deal? Any recommendations in Kent?