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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰

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 dΓ©cor, 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! πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚ and hopefully we won’t leave it so long next time!

❀

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 weΒ 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 πŸ˜‰

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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! πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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! πŸ˜‰

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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 πŸ˜‰ 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! πŸ˜‰ 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 dΓ©cor 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! πŸ˜‰

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