A sunny Sunday by the sea

The morning after Sophie’s wedding the sun was shining just as bright as it was the day before, so Matt and I decided that we would make the most of it and spend the day by the sea.

We were just outside Christchurch, Dorset, so we decided to head there and spend the day at our own leisure and meet up with some friends later on for lunch.

We had a walk along the high street first, checking out the local artists and nautical themed knick-knacks the shops had to offer.

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As much as I love being in the Surrey Countryside I do sometimes miss the beach and being near the sea, especially when it’s sunny.

From there we took a stroll through the Priory. (A fact for you, it is the longest parish church in the country and is larger than 21 English Anglican Cathedrals.) It is a very beautiful and serene place to visit.

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Then finally, we ended up at Christchurch Harbour.

We found an empty bench and sat for a while just breathing in the sea air, soaking up the sunshine and watching all the people out on their boats.

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Matt and I – Excuse the hair I had left it from the day before, oops!

We slowly got up from our comfy spot in the sunshine and headed to The Boathouse for a late lunch with friends.

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We had reserved a table inside and it was nice to have a bit of a break from the sunshine, I can’t believe I just said that!

Even though they specialise in seafood, they have a range of other options including pizzas, burgers and vegetarian dishes, so the menu pretty much caters for everyone. They even have a separate gluten free menu.

In all honesty I can’t remember what everyone had to eat as we were too busy catching up with each other, but it was really tasty! (I need to start remembering to take pictures of food instead of diving in straight away!)

After lunch we decided to head back outside and find a spot on the comfy sofas, order some more drinks and enjoy the weather. They also had live music outside which was great and made it feel like we were on holiday.

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Sam, Rich, Lauren and me

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Lauren, me, Fern, Jessica and Jody

We spent the remainder of the afternoon gossiping and drinking the tastiest cocktails until the sun went down. 🙂

A great way to end a great weekend by the sea.

 

Friday Night Fun!

Matt has had 6 weeks off rugby training for the Summer, and as much as I have enjoyed having him all to myself, I must admit I have been missing our big group meet up’s and night’s out! (Shh don’t tell him that!)

We knew our friend Dan (who we met up with in New York) would be playing the Piano at Urban Nine, a local wine bar. So we thought this would be the perfect excuse to get everyone together for a fun night out, before the craziness of rugby begins again in a few weeks time!

The evening started as a bit of a manic one. It took me ages to get home from work due to bad traffic, the weather was hot and stuffy so my hair was a bit of a frizz ball and I was a sticky mess (nice!), we then had some people over to look at some work we want doing to our house, but they ended up looking and chatting forever (more on house progress another time!) and so by the time I actually got a chance to start getting ready it was already gone 7pm and Emily & Sam we’re coming over at 7.30pm so we could head to the bar together.

Due to Matt only taking roughly 5 minutes to get ready, he kindly cooked a couple of pizzas for us and poured me a chilled glass of white. While I frantically showered, attempted to straighten my hair in the heat, applied minimal make up and finally threw clothes around the room trying to find something to wear. This was the end result:

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Skinny white jeans, my new fluffy black strappy sandals and a very summery printed vest top, not exactly matching but hey I liked it!

Em and Sam had obviously already arrived by this point, so I quickly joined everyone in the lounge, took a large sip of my drink and then attempted to paint my nails while eating pizza! Bit of a fail oops!

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^^ Em & Sam ❤

Finally ready to go 😉 we grabbed a cab and Em and I realised how matchy matchy we were! 🙂 Great minds and all that!

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Urban Nine is a small piano bar, situated above it’s sister Urban Kitchen. Kitchen being open in the day as a cafe and Nine being open at night as a bar.

Luckily we had reserved an area as there were quite a few of us and with the venue being quite small tables fill up fast! Our tables were in perfect view of Dan on the piano, whereas the other tables are around the corner in the bar area.

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As it was still pretty hot and I was in a holiday kind of mood, I decided to go for a frozen strawberry daiquiri as my first drink and it didn’t disappoint, full of flavour and just what I needed to cool off. Matt then kindly brought bottles of prosecco to share, before we had another look at those cocktails! They have a large choice and they are all delicious.

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^^ Girls group shot! I can’t remember what those lethal green looking cocktails were but they were very sour and soo good!

As the night went on Dan had the whole place singing and dancing and the atmosphere was buzzing. It could have been those cocktails though! 😉

Dan is an amazing Pianist but also a great all round entertainer, he isn’t just going to sit in the corner and play quietly, he likes to put on a show and he is so much fun! He even encouraged people to join him sing and he happily took requests.

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^^ Dan in action

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^^ White jeans were clearly the way to go

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^^ Andrew joining Dan for a song

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^^ Dan’s lovely wife, Sarah & I

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^^ Just a couple of the rugby boys, posing for a picture 😉

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^^ and Andy taking his posing to the next level!

Unfortunately, after a good few hours of listening to Dan play and sing, catching up with friends, dancing, singing and attempting to try all the cocktails, a DJ takes over and plays the usual chart music for the rest of the night.

Which is when Em, Megs and I decided it would be a good idea to do a few shots of tequila Rose;

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From then on the night is a little bit of a blur, but a good blur! 😉

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Cheers Guys and Girls and here’s to the next one, and if any of you are ever in Reigate I would def pop into Urban Nine for  a cocktail or 2 or 3…

Love, Chloe xx

Kat’s Nottingham Hen Weekend!

Another weekend..Another Hen Party! See I told you they were taking over 😉

For this hen weekend, a trip to Nottingham was in order. Somewhere I had never been before, so I was a bit excited to visit somewhere new.

I left work early on the Friday and began my journey from South London to North London dragging my jam packed suitcase with me. For those who don’t know London very well getting from one place to another can be a bit of a nightmare, especially on a Friday afternoon and a very hot afternoon at that!

Two train changes, One Tube journey, a quick pit stop to grab bottles of bubbles and asking a stranger for directions (I don’t know North London at all) and I had finally made it to Emma’s house.

Emma is one of Kat’s bridesmaid’s and other than communicating over email about the hen party I hadn’t actually met her in person before. But she was lovely, she must have taken pity on me and my bedraggled look and offered me a large glass of water before we spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the car with pink ribbon, getting all the hen bits together and chatting about how we knew Kat and what was in store for the hen weekend.

I actually met Kat, through Matt. Her then boyfriend now fiancé Ant, works with Matt and so ever since I have been with Matt I have known Kat. Wow that all sounds a bit of a tongue twister ha I apologise but hopefully it makes sense! We bonded over bubbles at the boys work do and have been great friends ever since. Kat and Ant got engaged in April 2014 and I must admit she has been one chilled bride to be! The hen weekend was organised by her 4 bridesmaids and was a total surprise for Kat.

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^^ Kat & Ant

With the car packed up and ready to go, Emma and I drove to the station to pick up Kat, ready for the weekend to begin! Kat was super excited but also a bit nervous considering she had no idea where she was going or what we had in-store for her.

We knew it was going to be a bit of a drive, especially with Friday traffic. So Emma had stocked the car with goodies including chocolate and can’s of Pimms, something Kat and I might have gotten stuck into a little bit quickly! 😉 Unfortunately the weather decided to take a turn for the worst when we hit The Midlands and so we didn’t see the sunshine again until Sunday! But it didn’t matter the good tunes, Summery drinks and company were more than making up for it.

We were staying in a quaint area in the Derwent Valley, in the Derbyshire countryside for the weekend and Emma had found a lovely house to fit all of us in for the weekend.

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We were actually the last to arrive at the house! But that was nice for Kat, as all her friends and family were there ready to surprise her. Plus they had done a great job of decorating the house, the walls were filled with photos of Kat, balloons had been blown, banners and streamers were everywhere and a goody bag had been left for everyone at their place setting. It was cosy, friendly and everyone was super excited for the weekend ahead.

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^^ My lovely goody bag, made by Miranda, one of the Bridesmaids

We had a quick explore and were shown our bedrooms and then headed back down to help with dinner. Well that was my intention, what really happened.. I was given a large glass of bubbles which was constantly topped up and mingled with some of the other girls in the lounge area. Oops! The bridesmaids all did a great job of looking after everyone and making sure everyone was fed and watered though, they couldn’t have done a better job.

For dinner we all sat around the large table and ate a feast of pizzas, salads, dips, doritos etc. Drinking lots of bubbles and hearing how everyone had met Kat and our favourite memories with her. Lots of gossip and girlie giggles just what hen weekends should be about!

Even more giggles erupted when Miranda, presented Kat with this…

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I think it’s pretty amazing and Miranda did such a good job. As you can see she is the creative one of the group! ha. We even lit candles and made Kat blow them out and make a wish of course 😉 The cake was actually a delicious chocolate creation.

After a quick tidy up and top up of bubbles, we all made our way to the lounge area and spent the rest of the evening playing games. A fun tipsy start to the weekend.

Saturday we had to wake up pretty early for the first of the days activities. After a quick breakfast, we all piled into cars and headed to Sherwood Forest for Go Ape! This activity had mixed reactions from the group. Some had done it before, some were super excited and ready for the challenge and the rest were just pretty scared about what was ahead! I was a mixture of the last two!

It was still chucking it down with rain and a little chilly but Go Ape! Still goes ahead, they claim that the weather makes it even more fun. So after our full safety briefing we were left to our own devices. Eek!

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You start off by climbing a rope ladder to the first base and then from there you face a few challenges through the trees until you reach the zip wire at the end. There are 6 areas to cover and the time it takes purely depends on your group size, weather conditions and how fit/brave you are!

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11227529_774664756188_8315093548359799877_n^^ The Bride to Be not looking very happy!

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11401519_774665045608_7990244743648435077_n^^ Yes this is me..the mud will make it fun they said ;-p

It took us about 2.5 hours to complete, but there were a lot of us, plus we had a few freak outs in the beginning but you get quicker/more confident as you move along. Plus the weather made it super slippery so we were being extra cautious and a bit slower!

At the time I said I would never do it again. But I think I probably would, as long as the weather was sunny! By the end we were all wet through, shivering cold and covered in mud. But we completed it! 🙂

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After a very quick change and dry under the hand dryer in the toilets!! We headed to a pub for lunch. I’m sorry I didn’t get the name, but we had our own private room and the food was generous and delicious. I had fish and chips and it was just what I needed to warm up!!

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We then headed back to the house, where the bridesmaid’s set up creative tables for everyone to enjoy and chill out a bit after the excitement of the morning!

First up were DIY Face Masks – We had instructions and all the ingredients we needed and proceeded to chop, whisk and mash until they were ready to use. Who needs a spa?

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^^ Helen (Bridesmaid) enjoying her creation

Next up was the Cupcake station – Pre made cupcakes ready to be decorated with all the icing and glittery bit’s you could ever need. Cute and yummy!!

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And lastly further in the background you may just see that we had photo booth props and masks to use for funny group photos. Unfortunately I had popped upstairs for a shower when these came out to play, so no photos from me I’m afraid.

We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling, chatting, eating, decorating and getting ready for the evenings events.

We were asked to be glam and ready in the lounge for 7.30pm and of course were greeted with more bubbles, vodka jelly and home made buckets of cocktails! We then played a couple more games, ate a few nibbles and then all jumped into the mini bus to take us to Nottingham Town Centre for the evening.

We started off with a table in Pitcher and Piano being civilised with cocktails and bubbles, before heading to Revolution for trays of shots and dirty dancing and then finally ending up in Coco Tang, drinking more cocktails, doing shots of Jäger and dancing until our feet hurt.

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It was such a fun night. When we got back we all sat around the table and ate the nibbles and cakes left over from earlier, laughed about the nights events and finally went to bed around 4am.

The next morning some people *no names mentioned* were suffering ever so slightly, but we all managed to have breakfast and tidied up the house before saying our goodbyes and sharing excitement over the next time we would all be together…The Wedding!

I finally got home about 5pm, crashed out on the sofa and ordered dominos, oops! But what a fun weekend, thanks for inviting me Kat and I can’t wait to see you walk down the aisle in 3.5 weeks time!!

Lots of Love, Chloe xxx

Sophie’s Bournemouth Hen Weekend!

I first met Sophie four and a half years ago, at my old job. We both joined on the same day, so being the newbies and working in such a small office, with only 3 other people, meant we spent a lot of time talking! She was also the person who would drive me to the train station after work on a Friday, nearly every other week, so I could travel up to London to see Matt for the weekend 🙂 Wow that seems like a long time ago now!!

I only worked at the company for a year and a half, before moving up to London for good. So even though I hadn’t known Sophie very long, working together everyday in such a close environment, meant that we got to know each other pretty well. The day I left was a bit of a sad one as I knew I was leaving Sophie alone and they didn’t end up replacing me. However at the same time I couldn’t wait to start my new life in London!

Sophie and I kept in contact weekly, along with attending each other’s birthday parties, concerts, night’s out, new home’s etc and in Summer 2013 celebrating the news that Sophie had gotten engaged to John, her childhood sweetheart. Matt and I attended their engagement party back in Bournemouth, and she asked me to be her bridesmaid that night. I was pleasantly surprised that she had asked me and happily agreed.

Ever since that moment though it has been all systems go on the wedding planning! And last Summer she asked if I would plan her hen party. I love organising parties (my old job was event planning) and I love a good spreadsheet. So I agreed to take on the task, after all I did have a year to plan it! She gave me a list of ideas that she liked and didn’t like and suggested that it would be easier to keep it in Bournemouth, the rest was up to me.

So finally after a long year of planning, organising and getting people together, Sophie’s Hen Weekend had arrived…..

I travelled back to my parent’s house late Thursday night and then spent Friday frantically putting last minute bits together for the hen party. Blowing up balloons, writing name place cards for the table, cutting out pictures to stick on the walls ..just to name a few! As well as managing to squeeze in a catch up with both of my nan’s and an old school friend of mine in the afternoon. Mum treated me to an amazing roast dinner that night, oh how I miss those! and then we spent the rest of the evening gossiping over wine..bliss!

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^^ Everyone’s bottle of fizz (I used these as place cards for the table)

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^^ Just some of the decorations, booze and added extra’s I brought – As you can see Sophie LOVES pink!

Saturday morning seemed to pass by in a second and then myself, mum and dad headed to the hotel in Bournemouth to set up. I am soo grateful that they helped me set up, along with my old boss, Jo. I really underestimated how long it would all take!

I had booked a private room for the whole day, and decided to decorate the whole thing myself. We laid pink table cloths, sprinkled with lots of hen themed confetti. Each Hen got their own bottle of fizz, along with chocolates, sweets, a bottle of bubbles, pink champagne flute, pink shot glass and a test tube shot.

My dad kindly blew up all the balloons and tied one to each chair. The walls we covered with hen party banners, balloons and photos of Sophie with her friends and family. Finally done, we hid all the extra booze and snacks in the cupboard, got rid of all the rubbish and I hugged and thanked my parents goodbye. I finally felt I was ready to relax and enjoy the day!

Jo and I got to Aruba just in time to meet everyone else for lunch.

If you haven’t been to Aruba you should really try it out. It’s right on Bournemouth Pier with views of the sea and beach and they do amazing cocktails. BOGOF on Friday nights 😉 By day it’s a place to chill with a drink, watch the World go by and eat some yummy food. In the evening it’s a place to come with friends and dance the night away, cocktail in hand. I used to love it when I lived in Bournemouth and it was always my go to place!

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On arrival I greeted everyone with their own personalised sash, which of course were pink and Sophie had a tiara/veil too!

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We then ordered a large round of cocktails and pizza!

After lunch we headed outside, into the gorgeous British sunshine. Bournemouth beach was packed!

Jumped in cabs and headed back to the hotel ready for the afternoon.

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^^ You can’t beat a selfie in the sunshine!

Back at the hotel, we were greeted with a glass of champagne before the Etiquette Class began. Yes we really did an Etiquette Class! and in all honesty I really enjoyed it and learnt a bit from it 😉

We learnt what you would expect from this sort of thing; how to walk with a book on our heads, how to speak properly, how you should treat your husband 😉 Well this was advice from the 1950’s! At the end we were split into teams and had to devise a short play, including all the advice we had learnt from the class. For example someone played the mum, dad, children etc. It was actually really fun and everyone got involved.

To end the class we learnt the history of afternoon tea and indulged in all the goodies and more bubbles of course! 😉 Plus I had put together a quiz of my own which everyone took part in while enjoying the cakes and scones!

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^^ Bride to Be Sophie in housewife training, 50’s style.

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^^ Sophie and Lauren, balancing those books!

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^^ Yummy afternoon tea and Sophie with some of her hens

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^^ Sophie with her 2 Bridesmaids, Sarah on the left and myself on the right.

After we had eaten as many delicious cakes and scones as we possibly could. Some of the older member’s of the group called it a day and headed home.

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^^ Sophie with (From L-R) Nan of the Groom, Gran of the Bride, Mother of the Groom, Mother of the Bride & Aunt of the Groom

We were very lucky with the weather and so for the remainder of the afternoon the mum’s decided to pop out for a bit of a sunbathe, while the rest of us checked out what the hotel spa had to offer.

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Feeling very relaxed after a quick swim and laze in the jacuzzi, we headed to our hotel rooms to get ready for the night ahead.

Glammed up and ready to get the party started, we headed back downstairs to our main room, where buffet food had been laid out for us and Sophie was waiting for her surprise….

A Butler in the Buff! She had banned me from getting a stripper, so this was the next best thing 😉

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He was a lot of fun and soon got us playing a mixture of games and continuously poured us drinks. His rule was 1 shot for the loser and 2 shots for the winner. That seems fair right? Needless to say we were very tipsy after his 2 hour visit!

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^^ We started off with pin the junk on the hunk, then moved on to Willy Bingo. After the shots kicked in, it turned into Never have I ever and finally we ended up with Body Shots! Sorry Mr Butler 😉

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After saying goodbye to our Butler and feeling a little tipsy,we all made our way to Bar So, for the rest of the evening.

We had a private table, with bottle service and danced and sang the night away..

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13 Ladies started on the Saturday and only 6 made it to breakfast the next morning, I think that’s a sign of a good night! 😉

I hope Sophie enjoyed herself and now the countdown is on for the wedding.. 4 weeks to go!

Love, Chloe xx

Date Night at Chiltern Firehouse!

Matt and I don’t have date night’s very often. Don’t get me wrong we go out for dinner and drink’s..a lot! But it’s usually with different groups of friends or our families. Which of course is nice and good fun, but sometimes you just want it to be the two of you. Also since moving to Surrey, I’m more reluctant to travel into London. It just feels like such a mission compared to the journey we used to have ha. So more often than not when we do go out with people it will be the local pub, Pizza Express or Prezzo. Nothing wrong with these places at all but sometimes you just want to treat yourselves to something a bit more special.

Our thing as a couple is usually the cinema, we love watching the newest block buster and visit quite often. But of course in that environment you don’t really get a chance to talk, plus it’s usually on a midweek work night where we have rushed home, grabbed a bite to eat and gone straight out again. Fun? Yes. But romantic? Not really.

So when we do decide to go on an actual date night, we really go all out. Pre dinner drinks, a swanky restaurant and a chance for us to get glammed up!

I have a little list going of places I would like us to try out, most are pretty expensive (hence why we don’t do it very often!) But we are slowly making our way through them. And this time we were trying out Chiltern Firehouse.

If you live in the UK or are into your celeb gossip (like me!) then you will have most likely heard of Chiltern Firehouse. It opened in 2013 as a small hotel and restaurant and seems to have been a firm favourite with the celebs ever since. If you read the Daily Mail, then I guarantee you, every day they will have a story about yet another celebrity going for dinner there or falling out of the club! Today I noticed it’s Rita Ora (she seem’s to go there a lot!)

So yes I did want to visit for the food, but this time it was also a little bit more about the atmosphere and seeing if we could spot any celebs!

Matt made the reservation about 2 months ago! Yes you really do have to book that far in advance for this place and even then you will only get a restaurant booking for 10pm!! Unless you are part of the rich and famous, of course!

I was excited and finally 2 weeks ago, we got to find out what this place was all about..

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^^ At home selfie

As our reservation wasn’t until 10pm. We started the evening at the Lobby Bar of the London Edition Hotel.

It’s located in Fitzrovia, roughly 5 minutes walk from Soho and Tottenham Court Road.

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As you can see from the outside, the hotel looks grand and very traditional of British/London architecture. Inside I loved the mix of the traditional marble and ornate ceilings, mixed with the modern decorations and sofa’s.

It was busy as you would expect for a Friday evening in London. But we soon found a place to sit and Matt ordered us a couple of Mojito’s. We relaxed and chatted about our days and what we had coming up over the next couple of weeks. It’s nice just to take time out and reconnect as a couple.

The service here was great and a waitress soon popped over to see if we were OK. We ordered a couple more cocktails and she brought them over with a complementary bowl of nuts. Exactly what we needed after a couple of cocktails and not eating until late 😉

The time passed quickly and before we knew it we were jumping in a cab and heading off to Chiltern Firehouse.

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The entrance is tucked away behind a fairy light filled courtyard and large black gates, guarded by doormen in top hats! As well as greeter’s (I don’t know if that is a proper thing or if I’ve made that up, but hopefully you know what I mean!) We also noticed a huge crowd of paparazzi, waiting to see who would be next to jump out of their private car.

As we stepped out of our taxi, a few flashes went off and we heard people shouting someone’s name. For a moment I thought I was famous 😉 haha. But when I quickly turned around to see what all the commotion was about and to see which big star had arrived, we saw it was Nancy Dell’Olio. I was so disappointed! To me she is not a celebrity, I didn’t even realise she was still popular. Harsh but true.

We walked to the gates, ignoring what was going on behind us and told the men that we had a restaurant reservation. One of the gentlemen escorted us inside, where we were then greeted by the cloakroom lady. She took our coats and escorted us to the reservation desk, where yet another lady took our name and then finally our waiter took us to our table. I guess you could say we were well looked after and everyone seemed genuinely happy to help and be there.

I must admit that the tables are pretty close together and we were seated along a long booth, so we had people either side of us. But it’s not like people we’re actually sat at your table, like Wagamama’s or Ping Pong. Plus I found it quite cute and cosy!

Our waiter was super friendly, helpful and always laughing and joking with us. I had heard great things about the crab doughnuts, so asked if we could have some to share with a glass of bubbles each, while we looked through the menu. Just a pre starter starter or light snack as Matt called it 😉

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^^ Checking out the menu

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^^ The crab doughnuts, which were super tasty, we could have easily eaten a few more of those! 😉

Matt had been given the wine list and was taking a long look at all the options, our favourite at the moment is Sancerre. We only first tried it back in April but it now seems to be our go to if out at a nice place. Usually though on a normal basis I stick to a Pinot or Sav Blanc 😉 The Sommelier then came over to see if we were OK and to take our order, Matt said about the Sancerre, but asked if he had any other recommendations. Which of course he did 😉 So we ended up going for a bottle of 2008 Blanc Fume De Pouilly instead. Neither of us had even heard of this wine before let alone tasted it, but he assured us it was just like Sancerre but a bit richer and would go with our food choices better. It was very tasty I must admit!

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Now back to the good stuff! The food!

To start I had the ‘Tender Leaves’ basically a salad with added beetroot, blood orange and candied pecans. I wanted something light to start, but you did actually get quite a large portion and I couldn’t finish it all. It was full of flavour though.

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Matt went for the Steak Tartare, one of his favourites! It was served with added pine nuts and chipotle & firehouse hot sauce. He said it was good but that the sauce wasn’t actually that hot.

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For our main courses, I was torn over a couple of dishes mostly a toss up between fish or pork. Fish won and I finally decided on the Wild Turbot, served with seaweed hollandaise and baby Jersey Royal potatoes. As you can see in the picture, a big plate of food! Which as ever I struggled to finish and had to leave some. The fish was cooked beautifully though.

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Matt had the Confit of Duck. He didn’t talk much while eating so it must have been good! 😉

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As you can see we also decided on a couple of sides to share including the green bean salad and maple-bourbon sweet potatoes. Usually at these types of places you need to order extra sides to complete your meal but here we could have easily coped without them. The sweet potato mash was different though and something you should try.

We had a small rest, but I was determined to fit in dessert somewhere! Especially as I had seen so many amazing dishes go by, I couldn’t miss out! and there were lots to chose from!

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I finally decided on the key lime pie which was really delicious, if a little sickly, but for once I did finish the whole thing 😉 and Matt went for the dark chocolate torte. You will probably start to notice a pattern of Matt going for chocolate desserts and myself, fruit. Hopefully you can spot both desserts in the picture below.

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We were totally full and I could barely move ha. But it had been such a lovely night filled with good food, drink and the best company ❤

It was now just gone midnight and people were heading to the nightclub, which we could have gone to. But due to our train times, we decided to head back. One negative of the evening. When you leave, you get escorted out the back door and end up in a back alley with the chefs who have just finished for the night. Bit odd I felt and it did feel like you were being thrown out of the building!

But oh well we still had a great experience, even with the lack of celebs! 😉 Now to start thinking about the next one!

Love, Chloe xx

Chicago Part 2! Food, Fishes and Fun

Oh the joys of jet lag!

Having gone to bed so early the night before, Matt and I woke up at 4.30am on Sunday morning! Not fun, but being 6 hours behind the UK meant I got to have a bit of a catch up and gossip with home. We tried and failed to go back to sleep, so in the end Matt got up at 6am for a swim! After a couple more hours of snoozing on/off and lazing around, we decided to get up and head out for breakfast.

Christina had recommended Wildberry to us, she explained there would be a bit of a queue but that it was absolutely worth the wait. So we set off into the wet weather, in search of Pancakes and Waffles, taking in all the fun sights and smells of The Theatre District along the way. We eventually found Wildberry due the mass of people and long queue that surrounded it! Is this really what she meant?! We managed to squeeze through the people and found out there was a nearly 2 hour waiting time for a table! Eek! and then we found out why..it was Mothers Day! (Mother’s Day is in March in the UK) We didn’t want to wait that long and so we walked back into the hub bub of the city and found a cute cafe instead. Refuelled and ready to go we made a quick stop at Target (Why is everything so cheap in the US, it’s not fair, I wanted to buy everything!) to get some supplies for our apartment, before heading back to meet up with Christina and Jason.

Originally our plan was to go to a baseball game that afternoon, but as the weather was so miserable and we didn’t fancy sitting out in the rain, the boys decided to stay in and watch the Bulls game instead. And what did us girls do? Shop of course!! Christina took me along Michigan Avenue which is home to the Magnificent Mile and we shopped until we dropped. My favourites included Express and Bath and Body Works (neither of which we have in the UK) Bath and Body Works I have been obsessed with for a long time and always make sure I stock up on soaps and hand sanitizers whenever I’m in the US, they smell incredible and feel so nice on your skin too. I am so gutted they don’t ship to the UK, please open a shop soon!! We also visited a huge Victoria’s Secret which I managed to spend a small fortune in but hey it’s cheaper than the UK so that makes up for it OK 😉 As we were having such a good time catching up and shopping we didn’t even realise the time (it was nearly 6pm!) So we headed back to the apartment, dropped our bags off and picked up the guys and headed to a local bar for a few drinks.

A few hours and cocktails later, my tummy was rumbling and in need of some good food, so we walked to Hard Rock which was at the end of the road. I know some people don’t like chain restaurants but I really love Hard Rock, I love the memorabilia and the good music they play, and I knew that being in the US we would get some good BBQ food too! And I was not disappointed, check out the pulled pork burger below! Excuse the hair though, I had been walking in the wind and rain all day!

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Nom Nom Nom.

When Matt and I woke up on Monday morning, we were so hoping for some better weather! I know we are used to it being from the UK but we were on holiday and needed some sunshine! So when I opened the curtains and saw that the weather was even worse than the day before I wasn’t too happy. What could we do today that was inside? We looked online during breakfast and found the Chicago City Pass, it seemed like a good deal and included some of the attractions we had talked about visiting, so we brought 2 passes and jumped into a taxi to The Shedd Aquarium.

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We have been to quite a few Aquariums before including London and Sydney but we enjoy them and wanted to see what The Shedd had to offer. Check out some of the animals we found cute, funny, strange:

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We did take a looottt of pictures of fish so I don’t want to bore you with all of them!

There are so many different areas to see and explore and all are very interesting. Unfortunately though we didn’t spot the dolphins and we just missed out on the opening of Stingray Touch but everything else more than made up for it!

Included in our City Pass was a ticket to see the 4D experience film. As we are big kids we went for the Ice Age film version rather than the educational one! 😉 but it was still funny whether you’re a kid or an adult, promise! On the way out, we popped into the gift shop, where Matt thought I looked like one of the toy turtles, thoughts? haha.

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I would say Matt and I spent around 3 hours at The Shedd Aquarium, but I’m sure if you had kids with you, or wanted to visit all the live talks and shows you could easily spend a whole day there!

It was now around late lunchtime (I swear I always think about food!) and so we headed back into the city to check out The Cheesecake Factory. But not before having a selfie and quick snap with a school bus! (The Magic School Bus, was one of my favourite TV programmes growing up, so I had to take a pic! Our buses aren’t yellow 😦 )

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Now where’s that Cheesecake?

Having been to America quite a few times before I had yet to experience a Cheesecake Factory! I know I know, what have I been doing my whole life!? and so I was super excited for my first experience!

Look at all the cheesecakes…..

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But first onto the ‘proper’ food. And where to start? The menu had something like 26 pages, crazy. Luckily we had an amazing waiter who knew from the looks on our faces that it was our first time. He explained the portion sizes, asked us what we liked/didn’t like and told us what he did and didn’t recommend, he was super friendly and honest and we liked that. and so what did we go for? A salad and sandwich to share, he told us this was a good choice. So we sat back, relaxed and waited for our food to arrive… and then it landed on our table…OMG good job we got this to share!! Check it out……

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I don’t think we had ever seen such a big salad before, but do you know what? The food was soo good and tasty, full of flavour and was definitely hitting a rather large hole! 😉 I did feel a little like Adam Richman though tucking into that salad haha. We tried our best to finish it all, but we HAD to keep room for cheesecake! I don’t think we did too badly though….

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So now what to choose for dessert? I LOVE dessert it is my favourite part of the meal, but there was just SO MUCH CHOICE!

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In the end we decided on the Oreo Cheesecake to share, it’s making me hungry just looking at it all over again..

11226543_10155576959580092_4205804691805415388_nJust look how happy I am! It’s as big as my head and sooo delicious! I was tempted to buy another slice to take home for later but my eyes caught up with my belly and I went against it! 😉

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Thank you Cheesecake Factory for a delicious lunch and please come to the UK soon!

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the shops, trying to burn off that big lunch! Before meeting up with Jason and Christina at Beercade for evening drinks. If you love Beer and Arcade Games this is your place to go! Luckily they had a large selection of cocktails for me to chose from too! A good, fun evening had by all!

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Love, Chloe xx

P.S I want that sign in our house!

21st Birthday Celebrations!!

I remember my 21st like it was yesterday..I loved fancy dress so chose a cops and robbers theme, I gathered all my best friends together, made them dress up in ridiculous outfits and headed into town for a night of shots, dancing and random games of limbo.. But *cough* enough of my reminiscing, this weekend was all about Hattie’s 21st Birthday Shenanigans….

Hattie’s birthday was actually nearly 2 weeks ago now, but inconveniently our boyfriends were playing a very important, last game of the season, game of rugby that day! So she politely changed her birthday plans to last weekend. I think I would have made more of a fuss! 😉

We did go to said rugby game though and made sure that everyone knew it was Hattie’s birthday, after all you’re only 21 once!

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^^ This was us driving to the match. Hattie is of course wearing the biggest badge we could find her and the inflatable crown meant for a child we managed to clip to her head, after many trials of it falling off. Doesn’t she look great? The Birthday Princess ❤

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^^ Post match, unfortunately the sun had decided to hide by this point!

We did manage to give Hattie a fun day though, despite the full day of rugby! We started off with a very sophisticated brunch, where we decorated the table with balloons and handed out presents. We then travelled about an hour away to the game and sang along to the amazing mega mix that Em had put together (think Britney, Backstreet Boys, 5ive you get the picture) The match itself was pretty exciting and made all the better when a cocktail van pulled up!! Yes a cocktail van!! They did the best apple pie cocktail which tasted just like the real thing with the added punch of vodka, yummy! After the game (our boys won FYI ha) we travelled home, indulged in a very large Chinese take away, cracked open a bottle of prosseco and then were just about to put a film on and chill, when Matt kindly decided to bring the after party back to ours! Needless to say it was a late one 😉

Now some of you might think that that was enough for a birthday.. but it isn’t really… is it? Especially for a 21st! So last Saturday we did it all again, just with better outfits and more booze!

The afternoon consisted of a BBQ at Hattie’s house, complete with what seemed like an unlimited supply of prosseco, a big chocolate fountain with an array of things to dip plus the huge BBQ and fire pit- well this is the British summertime we need as much help with the weather as we can get! We drank, we ate, we laughed, we gossiped and we also had the unexpected surprise of a magician (who might I add was realllyyyy good!!) Time really does fly when your having fun and before we knew it, it was time to pop home and glam up for the night ahead.

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^^ Finally glam, dancing shoes on and we were ready to party the night away

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^^ Birthday Girl Hattie in her amazing red dress!

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^^ Em enjoying her Pornstar Martini (Which were delicious)

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^^ and then things start to get a little messy when the shots come out to play. Yes that is me, being a bad influence to my friend Kitty who REALLY didn’t want a shot. Oops 😉

I think we were all a little bit too tipsy to remember to take any more photos of the night, but from what I do remember it was A LOT of fun! and I hope Hattie had a 21st Birthday to remember or not remember 😉 as the case may have been the next morning!

So here’s to the next one.. well birthday that is, we’re all a little past 21 now aren’t we ladies! :-p

Love, Chloe xx

#TBT – Scrummy Supper Club

I love a bit of #TBT So I thought I would share with you a post that I wrote on my old blog, thanks for reading 🙂

Until a couple of weeks ago I had never even heard of a supper club. I had no clue what they were about or what they involved. But my friend Emma (website, http://www.soothefood.co.uk/) quickly changed all that.

She has started a website called ‘Soothe Food’ which focuses on creating recipes and finding ingredients which are low FODMAP for people who either have food intolerances such as Coeliac disease, stomach problems like IBS which Emma has just been diagnosed with herself or if you just want to eat a bit healthier and find foods which are good for your digestive system!

I personally don’t have any dietary requirements (that I am aware of) but I can imagine it must be very hard if you do and having to stick to a limited and often what is thought to be a boring diet. This is where Emma is trying to change all that, with fun, exciting and tasty recipes that will keep your taste buds and tummy happy!

Emma likes to post her recipes online for people to try themselves, however she also wants people to try her recipes with her and give feedback which is why she joined the supper club.

Now for those of you who don’t know what a supper club is, it’s basically a lovely person hosting a dinner party at either a rented venue or their own home to complete strangers, who have booked their seat through the website. It must be pretty daunting to 1. have strangers at your house and 2. be cooking for them too! Which is why she also asked around to see if any friends would like to come along too, just to give that moral support and to see a friendly face, which must be welcomed when you are frantically hosting and cooking for 10 complete strangers! So I jumped at the chance to come along as I LOVE food! and would quite like to meet new people and make new friends, so I thought it sounded interesting and fun.

So last night I jumped on the tube and headed to Emma’s place…

I was the first to arrive, and was greeted with a lovely Aperol Spritz, how fancy! It’s an Italian cocktail comprised of Aperol, Prosecco and topped with Soda water, delicious! Only a few minutes passed before the first bunch of guests arrived. A group of 4 who all knew each other (a couple and her 2 female friends) and then another couple of guy’s. We all politely introduced ourselves, made a joke of not remembering people’s names and then saying we should have brought name badges!

I ventured out into the garden with the 2 guy’s.. yes a garden in London what a luxury! and it’s beautiful at that, a terrace area where Emma has her own vegetable garden, as she likes to use fresh ingredients as much as possible, then a square of grass with a shed and then at the end a decking area which was lit with candles, so pretty! I was jealous as I long for a garden! And we were also served bite sized tomato pastry canapés which were yummy and we got given more than one! 😉 I felt a bit guilty at this point though, as I had totally ditched Emma and was quite enjoying the freedom of chatting to new people. I usually either go out with my boyfriend, Matt or friends, so it was refreshing to step out of my comfort zone, be myself for a change and to just meet more down to Earth, nice, friendly people.

We then headed back inside to a long table, decorated with a green table cloth, mini pots of fresh herbs, candles and jugs of cucumber water, beautiful, which seated the 11 of us perfectly. 4 People had also joined (2 couples) which we didn’t even realise as we had spent so much time in the garden, oops! Everyone was soon chatting though, so much so, you could barely hear the background music which was also a great choice, a mix of Michael Jackson, MGMT and Empire of the Sun.

We were served crab cakes with a fennel salad to start. This was delicious, I don’t think I have ever had fennel served like that before but it worked so well with the crab and the crab cakes (one of my fav things) were cooked perfectly and so tasty, I could have just had a plate of those and been very happy! We had nice breaks in-between courses and of course carried on chatting to everyone around us, what started as work and where do you live, soon changed to holidays, families and everything in-between, who knew you could find out so much about people in a few hours? It was nice and intimate though and I felt very welcomed and everyone was so easy going and easy to talk to.

The main course was pork belly for meat eaters and salmon for veggies. The guy I had been chatting to all night was a veggie and he said the salmon was cooked perfectly and that he could never cook it like that. (Well done Emma!) This was accompanied by a very tasty, celeriac coleslaw and freshly baked courgette bread roll/scone. I must admit I’m not the biggest fan of bread, however it was made from gluten free flour which meant I didn’t bloat which is what usually happens when I eat bread and the courgette gave it a lovely flavour rather than a normal plain roll. Emma is very generous with portion sizes and we were always offered more sides 🙂

We had yet another nice rest before being treated to a citrus rice tart with raspberries and ginger snap biscuit for dessert. The presentation was amazing, especially adding a nice bronze/metallic touch to the biscuit which everyone smiled and commented on! I have never seen or tasted a rice tart before, it looked sort of like a cheesecake with a white filling and then a layer of raspberry coulis on top and fresh raspberries. It smelt very citrusy which was nice and on the first bite it was light and fresh just what you need after a big meal. However if I’m being brutally honest and I hope Emma doesn’t mind me being so! I’m not a fan personally of rice, it’s the texture of it, so I didn’t enjoy the tart too much as it had that rice texture even though it didn’t look like it would. (that comment makes me sound a little silly/dumb, but I hope you know what I mean!!) So I only ate half of it. Also a couple of people commented that is was quite savoury – not as a bad thing as they seemed to enjoy every last bite! But maybe it wasn’t as sweet as a dessert as some people expected? The ginger snap biscuit (made from scratch) was delicious though, one of my favourite things of the night and I could have happily dunked a few of those into my tea which we were offered at the end of the meal!

I finally left around 10.40pm and ended up walking back to the station with 2 guys I had chatted to all night. They were so lovely and friendly that we added each other on Facebook and I really hope to meet up with them again soon.

It was a lovely night, full of delicious food, drink and great company, what more could you ask for? and I would definitely recommend visiting a supper club to everyone I know. (Especially Emma’s!) Whether it’s just to try new food or make new friends I’m sure you will end up doing both! and I hope to be at the next one, which is already taking bookings for the end of September (they run once a month)

Apologies I didn’t take any photo’s though I’m not very good at remembering to do that! Maybe I’ll try more at the next one! 😉

Love Chloe xx

Happy Friday!

Soo,this is my first blog post and I have no idea what to write or start off with. I’m actually currently at work so being a bit cheeky writing this! 😉

It’s Friday, which means I finish work at 4pm aaaannddd it’s a bank holiday weekend! Double Bonus! 🙂 Now if only the sun would continue to shine, then I really would be a happy Chloe!

Matt is currently away on a stag do… in the European sunshine, not that I’m jealous or anything at all! :-/ ha

But I won’t be staying jealous for too long as I have a jam-packed, fun weekend planned myself. Starting with a girl’s night in/sleepover around our’s tonight. We are all attempting to be a little bit healthier and trying to save the pennies lately, so girls night’s in are fast becoming our favourite thing to do.

So tonight consists of all pitching in to make a home made curry, lots of wine or attempting to make some cocktails with what random ingredients we can find in our cupboards and then gossiping and watching films until the early hours. Perfect! Last time we had a sleepover back in February, we ended up watching Chicago until 4am and attempting to master the Cell Block Tango routine, then finding hilarious Dub Smash clips to recreate. I promise we are all professional 20 something’s even if at times we still act like our 14 year old selves! 😉

The rest of the weekend consists of a friend’s BBQ tomorrow (fingers crossed the sun makes an appearance), a night out for my friend Hattie’s 21st Birthday (Oh to be 21 again *sob*), a trip to the hairdressers – much needed my roots are nearly down to my ears..well almost 😉 and then I’m debating starting some decorating – wish me luck!

I hope you all have a great long weekend too!! Look forward to hearing about yours!

Love, Chloe x

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