Honeymoon Day 9 – Preparing for a Hurricane!

It was nice waking up leisurely, knowing that we had no plans and could just take the day as we pleased. So we had a lazy morning watching TV (mostly sport or keeping track of the hurricane or presidential debates!) whilst enjoying breakfast in our room.

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We couldn’t spend the whole day lazing around inside though and as it was lovely and sunny, we decided to head to the hotel pool area. We found a couple of sunbeds, ordered a few drinks and enjoyed soaking up the sun.

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We spent the afternoon chilling on the comfy sunbeds, relaxing in the Jacuzzi and floating around the huge pool. It was very calm as it was mostly couples with only a handful of children.

As usual though with the Floridian weather grey clouds started making an appearance by late afternoon and as the staff were already trying to pack up as many sunbeds as possible in preparation for the hurricane, we decided to head back to our room and look into options for the evening. With just a quick pit stop along the way for a game of Shuffleboard…

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Walking back to our room, we received a call from Virgin Holidays. They explained that they had tried to book us onto trips to Mexico and LA but neither had worked out with our dates and so the only other option they could offer us, apart from staying in Orlando, was to fly to Las Vegas.

Matt and I love Las Vegas and have been a few times before and even though it wasn’t the relaxing second week we thought we would be having, we just wanted to get away from the bad weather and relax for a few days, without the stress of a looming hurricane! So we told them to go ahead with the new plan and they said they would email us with all the details but that the flight was 6am the next morning!

We got changed and decided to head back to Disney Springs for our last night in Orlando.

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We drove there in a huge storm. It was so bad that we could barely see the road or cars in front of us, which was quite scary, but we made it and decided to go to the House of Blues for an early dinner.

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Trying to escape the rain ha!

We’ve been to a few States which have a House of Blues but we had never visited one, so I was excited to check out it’s offerings. I loved the decor and music and we were told that Sum 41 had a concert there that evening if we wanted to get tickets. I was tempted as growing up I loved Sum 41! But looking at the horrific weather and knowing we had to be up at 3am we decided against it!

To start Matt and I shared the Voodoo Shrimp, which was recommended and it was delicious. The shrimp were huge and the flavour was incredible, we both thoroughly enjoyed that dish, although I wasn’t too keen on the cornbread. I’m not a big bread fan anyway but that was just an odd one for me, Matt loved it though. For mains Matt had the tacos and I had the pulled pork sandwich which was yummy but huge and as ever I couldn’t finish it all. I don’t think I finished one meal the whole honeymoon!

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We declined dessert as we were just so stuffed and as the weather had cleared, we walked off dinner by looking in a few shops and visiting the World of Disney one last time!

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Sad to say goodbye to Florida but excited for the next adventure on our honeymoon!

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Love, Chloe xx

Lauren’s Parisian Hen Weekend – Part 2

We began the day with a delicious breakfast at the hotel, where the croissants were fresh from the patisserie next door! Yum!

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Then made our way to the banks of the River Seine, as we had booked an hour-long sightseeing cruise. It may have been freezing, but we kept ourselves warm with hot drinks and it was a great way of seeing all the sights when short on time.

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After the tour we made our way to The Eiffel Tower ready for our trip to the top. We had pre-booked our tickets with an allocated time slot, which I would highly recommend doing, otherwise you are stuck waiting in a very long queue!

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We went up by lift but you can walk it if you are feeling fit and brave! As you can see it was a bit breezy, but such a good way of taking in the whole city and the views were amazing. At the top they also have a few souvenir shops and a macaron shop, my favourite!

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We grabbed a late snack/lunch on our walk back to the hotel. Where we then had some time to leisurely get ready for the evening.

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We started the night with drinks at the hotel and then jumped into taxis to Le Sanglier Bleu restaurant where we had dinner reservations.

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We gave Lauren some presents and a memory book with photos and notes from all the hen’s and played a few games whilst enjoying a delicious dinner of sea bass and traditional tart tatin and Crème brûlée’s. Yum!

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Finally finishing off with some traditional drinks!

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We then had a short walk to the infamous Moulin Rouge, where we had tickets for the evening show, which we were all so excited for. The queue to get in was a bit crazy even though we had tickets but once inside it was pretty iconic and magical.

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We had a private table and were given so many bottles of champagne. Apparently it came included with the tickets!

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The show was a mixture of burlesque, circus acts, singing and dancing. Some acts were really good but unfortunately some were quite dated and not as slick as we all imagined it would be. I’m glad I can say I visited though as it had been on the bucket list for a long time but I wouldn’t rush to go back. Fun night out with the girls though!

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The next morning we couldn’t believe how quickly the trip had flown by and that it was our last day in the beautiful city. So we had yet another leisurely breakfast at the hotel, had a little look around the local shops and eventually got the train back to the airport.

Such a lovely girls weekend away and hopefully a trip Lauren will never forget!

Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 2 – Universal Studios!

Even though I had an amazing sleep my body still decided to wake me up at 6am! So I decided to go for a little explore. I wanted to check out the breakfast options, always my main priority when staying at a hotel and I also wanted to book us onto the free shuttle bus which dropped hotel guests off at some of the parks. Although we had the car, some days we decided it would be easier to use the free transportation on offer, especially if we wanted to stay at the parks all day and would be tired or wanted to have a couple of drinks.

The staff were more than happy to help me, even at that time of day! I found a couple of options for breakfast and was told we were welcome to visit the neighbouring Marriott Hotel to use their facilities and restaurants too, which was good to know.

We decided to try out Highball & Harvest for breakfast, which was a restaurant and bar area in our hotel. It offered an à la carte menu as well as the all you could eat breakfast buffet. It was pretty pricey but I guess that’s to be expected in the type of hotel we were staying at, but the food was super fresh and delicious so made up for it. Matt even finished off his breakfast with an American frosted doughnut! When in Rome….

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Even at 9am the mixture of heat and humidity was fierce! Waiting outside for the shuttle bus to collect us, I was already melting and the day hadn’t even begun.

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Such a tourist with my backpack!

We arrived at Universal Studios ready and raring to go, map in hand, our plan was to visit both parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) in one day. Some people might think we were crazy but we just didn’t have enough time to do it any other way. Due to this we upgraded our tickets to the Express tickets, which meant we could skip the queue once at each ride or show. This was actually really useful and worth the money as it meant we could do all the rides we wanted to without getting stressed or rushing around. The only attractions these tickets didn’t work for though were the Harry Potter rides.

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Phew I’m tall enough!

Now, I could easily talk about all the attractions in great detail and go through step by step every single thing we did, which is what I originally started doing when first writing this post, but it was going on forever and I just thought you would get a bit bored! So I’m going to try to condense it all as best I can and just show you a lot of photos instead!

We started the day at Universal Studios which consists of 7 themed areas. Production Central, New York, San Francisco, Hollywood, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. We made our way around all these areas apart from the kidzone and went on the rides, looked in the shops and just enjoyed the atmosphere and excitement of being there. I must admit though I hate big rollercoasters which is annoying for Matt who loves all rides, so he did have to go on a few alone 😦 Sorry Matt!

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One of Matt’s favourite films – Back To The Future

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This ride was so good!

One of my favourite rides in this Park was probably Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, it’s really well done and quite funny, plus Matt and I are such big kids who love anything Minions! I also loved the Simpsons ride and the whole Simpsons area. It was pretty cool to be able to go into Moe’s for a drink, Krusty Burger for food or to the Kwik-E-Mart for gifts!

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A couple of the areas didn’t have much going on, as they were either working on new rides or had just demolished old ones. I get that they constantly need to be working on new ideas and attractions but I’m not sure how I feel about the new, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon ride which opens in 2017. I appreciate he’s a big deal in America but just sounds weird to me and I don’t see how it relates to Universal, also I think it’s going to be yet another 3D or 4D Ride! Personally I really miss the old school rides like Twister, Earthquake and Jaws. I really wish they would bring some of those kind of attractions back!

Now this may offend some people haha, but I am not a Harry Potter fan. I have never read the books and have only seen tiny snippets of the films if my sister, dad or Matt have had them on, I just don’t get the hype. So before we visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I must admit I wasn’t really bothered or excited about it. In all honestly I was actually annoyed when they started building the areas as I just couldn’t understand why they had to take over the Universal Parks. Why couldn’t they just build a whole new Harry Potter theme park of its own?

Vent over I promise.

As when I actually stepped foot inside HP World it really did look pretty impressive, even though I had no idea of what shops, streets, people I was looking at, I could still enjoy it and embrace the wizarding experience. Plus the rides are really good too!

 

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Trying Butter Beer – Matt was very disappointed when he realised it wasn’t real beer!

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As we had been on everything we wanted to go on and seen everything we wanted to see, we decided to take the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station over to Hogsmeade Station, located in Islands of Adventure.

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Universal’s Islands of Adventure is also split into 7 sections. Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

We were flagging a bit by the time we made it over to this park, so we decided that our first stop would be lunch at Mythos Restaurant. We needed time out of the heat and we just needed a sit down after all the walking! We opted for a light lunch which arrived quickly and was tasty.

Fuelled and raring to go again, we went out to explore what this park had to offer. Starting with HP Hogsmeade. Again this area was visually stunning and the main ride was full on. Not at all what I was expecting!

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Sorry Matt for making you ride alone!

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The newest attraction at I.O.A which is pretty impressive

Our favourite rides more often than not are the water rides. So by the time it got to late afternoon and we were absolutely sweltering from the heat, we decided it was time to cool off and Toon Lagoon seemed the place to go. Starting with Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls which I was quite scared to go on, the reason I don’t like roller coasters is due to the drops, so when I saw the height of this log flume I panicked but Matt basically forced me to go on and I’m glad he did as I loved it, even though my face tells a different story…

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This photo will forever make me laugh!

Then we found  Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges which is a rapids ride. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much on a ride before. We got absolutely drenched through, but this was by far my favourite ride of the whole day. We even went on for a second time which we filmed on the GoPro.

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Drenched from the water rides!

We made The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man our last ride of the day as it was about 6pm and we were uncomfortable in our wet clothes. We ended up getting changed in the toilets ha, but I was just happy I was dry! I’m so glad we brought a change of clothes and shoes which we kept in our backpacks inside lockers when we were on the rides, as this meant we could then carry on the evening without having to head back to the hotel.

We then spent the evening at Universal CityWalk which is located just outside the entrances of both parks. We mooched around the shops, brought some amazing macaroons at The chocolate Emporium and then finally treated ourselves to cocktails and burgers at Hard Rock Cafe.

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The Texan: Hickory-smoked pulled pork, chipotle barbecue sauce, cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, crispy fried jalapenos & onions all on a toasted brioche bun. Yummmm!

An amazingly fun but long day!

Love, Chloe xx

 

Donkeys, Dresses, Dinner and Dancing!

OK, so I admit it..I have been a very bad friend to my old school friend, Lauren.

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^^ A photo of us at a party in 2006/2007. Well it is #TBT

She got engaged in December AND asked me to be her bridesmaid, something I was mega excited and happy about. I congratulated them straight away and I couldn’t have been happier for them.

BUT I hadn’t actually seen her since November! See what I mean about being a bad friend! Don’t worry I’m tutting at myself!

We both have lots of excuses as to why we haven’t seen each other in so long though. Lauren is a nurse so works all weird hours, we live a couple of hours apart, I had just moved house, Lauren was looking to move house, it was Christmas, we had holidays. You know what it’s like and the list goes on. However we always make time to message and check in on each other and she is definitely that friend that you can go months without seeing, yet when you meet up it’s like you saw each other yesterday. Those are the best kind of friends and I’m glad to say I have quite a few of those.

I must admit though we haven’t always been the best of friends. When we first met at 13 years old we HATED each other. I don’t even know why. But we were horrible to one another! I mean really horrible! But luckily by the time we got to 6th form (16/17 years old) and were in a few classes together, we seemed to get over our issues, and actually found out we were quite similar and had a lot in common. And the rest as they say is history. At least we have lots to look back on and laugh about now! 🙂

So when we realised it had been 6 months since we had met up and we STILL hadn’t celebrated her engagement properly, we finally got a date in the diary. And so last weekend, Matt and I drove to the New Forest, to visit Lauren and Rich’s new place and to finally share some bubbles!

The drive was long, much longer than it should have been. The satnav decided to take us on a bit of a detour in an attempt for us to miss the motorway traffic, but we always seemed to end up in more traffic. But with the sun shining brightly, music on and a packet of wispa bites to keep us entertained, things could have been worse 😉

We finally arrived at their new place 3 hours later! But I only managed a quick hug and hello to Rich before I was getting back in a car to head out bridesmaid dress shopping with Lauren and her other bridesmaid Lucie.

We left the boys behind, having only met once before..in a pub…about 2 years ago. They would be fine, right?

The car journey was a very picturesque one, making our way through the centre of the New Forest. But stupidly I didn’t take a camera and my phone had ran out of battery. So I can only describe it to you. Sunshine, fields and forests that go as far as the eye can see, flowers, cute tiny foals, donkeys, so many horses and lots of children, laughing and having fun. If you haven’t been to the New Forest, you really should. It’s beautiful!

We made it to the dress shop and were let loose 🙂 Lauren is a very chilled Bride to Be and basically let Lucie and I have free reign. We tried on soo many styles and colours. Some we liked, some not so much. But we finally came to a decision on one that we both loved. It fitted us both perfectly and was the colour Lauren had wanted all along. How did we know 😉 Unfortunately I can’t say any more. You will just have to wait until December for the wedding! But they are gorgeous.

After all that hard work (we actually managed to do it in about an hour which I think is a miracle!) and to thank Lauren for buying them for us. We thought it was time for some tea…and cake. We crossed the road and actually stumbled across a cafe called Chocol8. Just take a look at this place, how could you resist going in??

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It’s pink, girlie, glam and gorgeous. I was a bit in love. Plus they sold handmade chocolates, fudges and sweets. As well as serving afternoon tea, cakes, sandwiches and smoothies. Perfect.

We ended up staying, gossiping and eating for quite a while. The chairs were too comfy, the cake was too good and we just didn’t want to leave. But we had dinner plans and boys to get back to! So we made our way back through the forest again.

Lucie ended up dropping both Lauren and I off at a local pub, where Matt and Rich had spent most of the afternoon. See we had nothing to worry about. Wimbledon, rugby and beer, we knew they would get on! We chatted about each other’s afternoons and what we had been up to and then looked at the time! Oops.

We rushed back to theirs and then Lauren and I had approximately 10 minutes to get ready before a taxi arrived. I think I’m getting quite good at this rushed getting ready thing, who needs hours? ha 😉

Glammed up and ready to go, the 4 of us headed into Southampton for dinner at Grand Cafe.

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The venue, as the same suggests, was pretty grand and I fell in love with the décor, a bit like the cafe earlier. Just bigger and better! We were taken to our table by the window and ordered some drinks. Mojitos for Lauren and Matt. A bottle of wine for Rich and I. I guess opposites really do attract ha.

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We were talking so much, that I started to feel a bit sorry for our waiter, who had tried to take our food order about 3 times. But each time we would tell him we hadn’t looked or weren’t ready!

The menu had a good mixture of everything steaks, seafood, vegetarian options etc and we finally decided on 2 sharing boards to start.

The Spicy BBQ, which included ribs, chicken wings, garlic bread, corn on the cob and wedges. Plus the Italian Job, which included Italian meats, mozzarella, olives, plus plenty of breads and dips. There was a lot of food, but we had worked up an appetite and so it all disappeared pretty quickly!

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After the feast, we managed to contain ourselves when the mains arrived and so I managed to get a snap of these!

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^^ The Veggie Burger for Lauren. She’s not a veggie, but sometimes the veggie option is too good to resist!

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^^ A beefburger for Matt

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^^ Ribs for me, because I hadnt had enough with the starter! 😉

and finally….

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^^ Rich went caveman and got the ‘Meat on a Stone’ Basically cook your own steak.

The food was good and filling and for once, I couldn’t fit in dessert!! We stayed for a little while longer finishing our drinks and chatting. We had lots to catch up on and I needed to hear about all the wedding plans and of course hear the proposal story again 😉

We didn’t even realise the time, it was nearly midnight, so we decided to head to a bar for a couple more drinks. We found a small bar who would let us in, as weirdly most of the places refused us, due to them closing soon. We had no clue where we had ended up and looking around we seemed to be the youngest there! But the music was great, Spice Girls, Gina G, Wigfield! Haha all our old cheesy favourites so we were soon dancing the night away!

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A great day with great friends 🙂 and hopefully we won’t leave it so long next time!

Love, Chloe xxx

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

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

Bye Chicago – Hello NYC!

Friday morning started early, finishing our last minute packing and saying goodbye to Jason and Christina.

This was emotional, well for us girls anyway! I hadn’t seen Christina for 9 months and now our 6 days together, which we had both been looking forward to for soo long had just flown by. They were a lot of fun, but had made me realise just how much fun we used to have together and how much I miss her back home! She is most definitely my partner in crime!

Jason will be popping back to the UK in September for a friend of our’s wedding, however Christina couldn’t get the time off work which is a real shame. I don’t know how American’s deal with the lack of holiday days it’s just crazy! They will, however both be back over the Christmas period, so I really hope we get a chance to catch up with them properly again then.

After lots of hugs and tearful goodbyes, they left for work and Matt and I had a quick breakfast before getting a cab to the airport. I know I should have been happy, as I was heading off to NYC for the weekend, however I still felt sad that our time in Chicago was at an end and I was leaving one of my best friends behind.

I’m not a great fan of flying, especially in smaller planes that you use for shorter journeys, I just think that you can feel everything more. If that makes any sense at all ha. So to me our 2 hour long flight, felt like forever, and I just wanted to get off. To make matters worse we seemed to constantly be in cloud which made the plane a little bumpy again something I hate. Maybe I was just in a bad mood still from breakfast, but I just wanted to be in New York already!

We finally landed, grabbed our suitcases and jumped in a cab outside. The sun was shining brightly, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was hot. This made me very happy!! Sunglasses on and taking in the new sights, sounds and smells of NYC I felt like I was truly on holiday. Unfortunately we had landed smack bang in the middle of Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, so it took us nearly 2 hours to get to Times Square! But I was just excited about what the weekend had in store for us!

We stayed at The W Hotel on Times Square and were greeted by super friendly and helpful doormen who took our luggage. I was in awe of the hotel right from the start. Take a look at the 360 degree water fountain in the hotel lobby!

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The décor is ultra modern and the staff are friendly and helpful and check in was a breeze. We had a room on the 28th floor, overlooking M&M World and Hershey’s World (see pics below)

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The room was also pretty spacious for a NY hotel as I know some can be tiny! We had a large long wardrobe, a big double bed, plus a sofa under the window. Then the bathroom had a large double shower, toilet and sink area. The shower head however was a little low for Matt who is 6ft 6! It was one of those which was fixed on the wall so you couldn’t move it, but he seemed to manage OK in the end! We quickly unpacked, freshened up and then headed out to meet friends for dinner.

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We walked into Rosa Mexicano (Union Square) and headed straight to the bustling bar and ordered 2 mojitos. I loved the atmosphere, everyone seemed to be excited it was the weekend. The place was packed, full of friends catching up, couples on date nights and many groups who had come straight from work. The Mexican music also made me want to start dancing the night away. We found a table to perch on and waited for our friends to arrive.

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First up was Andrew, also known as Kiwi, Matt had met him on Bruce’s stag do, but I was yet to meet him. He works with Bruce in NY and seemed a really nice, down to Earth kind of guy. Then Phil arrived with his girlfriend Jess. Phil went to uni with Matt, however now lives in LA with Jess. I have met Phil many times and he is a good laugh and fun to have on a night out. This was the first time Matt and I were meeting Jess, but she seemed really sweet and also up for a fun night!

We ordered more cocktails and then headed to our table. The cocktails were really good and you could tell they use all fresh ingredients, but be prepared they are pretty strong! They also do a mojito made with Tequila, known as a Mojito de Coquito, if you fancy trying something a little different!

40cfd53b9aac5ba428bc85b5e266066c_full_sizeWe ordered some nachos and guacamole dip to share to start. This was made freshly at our table by a chef who could slice avocados so quickly, I was scared he was going to lose a finger! It was delicious though and very hard to stop eating it all!!

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Even though the whole place was super busy, it had a really relaxed vibe and we were never rushed into ordering food, it felt like they were more interested in making sure you were having a good time and experience. I loved this, however this did mean drinking quite a few cocktails before our food was served! 😉

In all honesty I can’t remember what everyone ate for dinner and I was too tipsy by this point to take photos, apologies. But the food was really good! For dessert we shared the churros which melted in your mouth and came with a variety of dips. We also decided to end dinner with a shot of tequila. Have you seen the size of American shots?! Crazy! At least twice the size of ours! eek. With full bellies and an excited tipsy feeling we headed to a bar to meet up with everyone else.

From then on the night is a bit of a blur, I don’t know what bar we went to but it was cosy and played good music. We met up with Bruce and Erin whose wedding celebrations we had come over for and we were introduced to all their family and friends. All I remember was, a lot of toasts, a lot of shots and being introduced to fireballs.

Fireballs are shots of cinnamon whisky I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong!) These don’t seem to be big in the UK yet but I’m sure they will be soon! I actually noticed a bottle of this in Sainsburys this week! So it’s coming ha. These shots are lethal! I loved the taste, I think I described it as Christmas in a shot haha, I love anything cinnamon. However after a couple, along with other shots and drinks, I had gone from being tipsy to full blown drunk and then I don’t remember the rest of the night or getting back to our room. Oops. It must have been a good one though! Needless to say I was a little bit ill when we got back to our room. I don’t think I’ll be having fireballs again in a hurry!!

Love, Chloe xx

Chicago Part 1- It’s all about the Deep Dish!

After a pleasant and slightly boozy 9 hour flight (well we did have to make the most of the bar area! 😉 ) we had finally arrived in Chicago! But wait what was that we could see?… clouds, wind, grey skies! We thought we were on holiday, where was the sunshine?

We hopped in a cab and travelled to our apartment, taking in all the sights along the way. The skies were eerily foggy and you could barely see the top of most buildings. But it made Chicago that bit more intriguing. (Sorry no photos were taken, we were still in a bit of a plane daze!)

We were staying in a new build apartment block, called One Eleven. See below – This picture was taken on a day when we had sunshine! The building was only completed in Summer 2014.

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Most residents live here permanently but a few apartments are rented out to visitors like us and I would highly recommend staying here! The doormen are so friendly and soon remember your names so you instantly feel like you live there! It is right in the centre of Chicago, so within walking distance to the main tourist attractions and you also have full use of all the onsite amenities, such as swimming pool, gym, games room and numerous lounges with places to chill and take in the views, which include the river, Lake Michigan and Trump Tower. (See pics below)

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After a quick tour, we found our room on the 24th floor, unpacked, jumped in the shower, changed and then made our way up to see Jason and Christina and I was soo excited. After 9 months apart I could not wait for a big, long hug and then gossiping over a large glass of wine and that is exactly what happened! The boys were easily entertained with beers and sports on the TV.

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^^ I had missed this one! ❤ (please excuse the pale face – a mixture of jet lag and wine was kicking in!)

After quite a few hours, chilling, drinking and catching up, we decided to pop out for an early dinner. Christina decided that we should experience a true Chicago Deep Dish and so we headed off to Gino’s East, to see what all the fuss… about this famous pizza… was about!

I’m not actually a fan of deep dish pizza’s (Sorry people of Chicago) but to me pizza’s should be thin and crispy, but hey while I’m here, I’m certainly going to give it a go! I also don’t drink beer. Much to the Whole of America’s disgust I’m sure, as you guy’s seem to love the stuff! So again I think the waiter thought I was a little odd when I asked for bubbles haha. Now back to that pizza…

The waiter said that 1 medium deep dish would be enough for the 4 of us. But Jason also insisted that we try the Buffalo wings to start and I also noticed pulled pork sliders on the menu too (anything pulled pork I must have! 😉 ) so we had quite the feast to be getting on with.

The Buffalo wings arrived first, sticky and bright orange I had to dive in immediately, the sauce had a slight kick but not crazy hot and I fell in love with the flavour straight away. Needless to say that for the rest of the week if buffalo wings were on the menu, Matt knew I was going to have them! If anyone knows of a good place in London or Surrey that does Buffalo wings, please let me know as I’m suffering from withdrawal symptoms!

Next up were the pulled pork sliders, one each and gone within 2 bites, but these were tasty and full of flavour, melt in your mouth pork and sticky, smoky BBQ sauce, always a winner.

I was already feeling full! But here comes the main event…The Deep Dish and WOW was it deep!!

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I don’t know if these photos really do it justice or if you can tell just how big/thick it really is. But believe me it’s big! One slice each was more than enough for us 2 ladies and although Matt went in for a second slice he struggled to finish it! It was nothing like any pizza I had tasted before and it felt more like a pizza pie.

Rather than dough, I do believe the base is made of shortcrust pastry. The crusts were so thick you couldn’t cut them and Christina recommended breaking bits off and dipping it into the ample tomato sauce you get! Another difference you may notice is they put the cheese on the base before the tomato sauce and not the other way around. As you can see this gives the pizza a very gooey, stringy texture that can only be eaten by knife and fork.

If I’m going to be honest, I wouldn’t rush back for another one, personally for me it was a bit rich and big and I think I will stick to my thin crust in future. However having said that I’m glad I got to sample a Chicago tradition and these 3 certainly enjoyed it!!

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We were all so stuffed that we couldn’t fit in desert but after a breather we decided to walk onto a bar for another round of drinks, but unfortunately jet lag had caught up with Matt and I and we were nearly falling asleep on our bar stools, so after a very quick last drink, we all decided to walk back to the apartments and Matt and I were sound asleep by 9pm!

What a great way to start our trip – Pals, Pizza and Pints! 😉

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