Bills Secret Garden Opening & Meeting Bill

So you may remember our blog post from a couple of months ago where we were lucky enough to be invited to see the newly renovated Bills in St Albans and to also sample the new menu (which by the way is incredible)!

We were fortunate to be invited back to see their new secret garden which is situated at the back of the restaurant in St Albans.

We did not know what to expect but it was a beautiful Thursday evening and the sun was (thankfully) shining! We arrived and were told to make our way to the back where we were greeted with delicious summer cocktails.

The garden/courtyard is the perfect size that fits about 5 tables and a couple of umbrellas. Surprisingly the whole courtyard is surrounded by residential flats (which means the garden has to shut by 9). There is the most lovely rustic feel in the garden and because they are not allowed to hang anything on the walls instead they had big mirrors, fairy lights and foliage lent against the walls.

The secret garden seats up to 24 guests and we were both discussing how popular weekend brunch is going to be in the secret garden on a beautiful sunny morning. We know we will definitely be visiting, not only to enjoy the beautiful secret garden but to eat the delicious brunch Bills has on the menu.

We spent the evening mingling and first met the Chief Operating Officer of Bills, he was great and we all shared a love for the brownies and sticky toffee pudding which is on the new dessert menu! then we met Bill himself. The restaurant chain is named after him and he is still so involved in the restaurants and it’s so amazing to see. Despite having 83 restaurants Bill still wants to get stuck in and even had his own vision for the secret garden at the St Albans brand and helped with the gardening too!

For us this makes going to Bills an even more enjoyable experience as we could see how much Bill still cares about his restaurants and the staff too, which is very very important to us.

We had a lovely evening enjoying canapés and peach iced tea and also met some lovely bloggers too.

We didn’t leave empty handed either as they were very kindly handing out goody bags which had some of Bills products in; Pink Lemonade, Lemon Curd, Cookies and Tea.

We are so excited to see the Bills restaurants around the country slowly change and are hoping it will be the Watford branch next!

If you want to visit one of these new Bills they are in St Albans, Covent Garden and Westfield White City!

The Best Travel Hacks Out There

We love a good hack especially when it saves us money! We go on lots of weekends away and therefore never really need to pay for a suitcase in the hols! Read our travel hacks below and see if they help save you a little extra cash! That money you were spending could even be put towards another weekend break!

It doesn’t matter where in the world you heading off to, these travel hacks are total game changers (well they have been for us).

FORGET ABOUT FOLDING
Did you know that folding your clothes actually takes up far more space than rolling your clothes, oh and it also reduces crease marks! You can thank us later. Were possible we always carry our bags with us instead of putting them in the hold, you can actually take on a relatively big bag as well so there is no need to spend the extra money. So the next time you go away try and roll-up your clothes or if you are feeling particularly snazzy vacuum-pack them.

READ ON KINDLES
Gone are the days where you have to choose only two books to take on holiday! We read SO much on holiday two books just aren’t enough and we end up not know what to do when we are on holiday! Well you don’t have to Kindles (other e-readers are available) are a great way of saving space, saving on weight and, best of all, reading while on a lilo without a worry in the world. Yup.. the latest models also tend to be waterproof (so cool)!

FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS
Sites like Skyscanner have so many cheap flights and there are also subscription services out there which will find cheap flights for you. Sure, going down this route doesn’t allow you to search for your bucket list destinations, from Brisbane to LA, but it will convince you to go-go-go when your destinations come up.

CITY CAR RENTALS ONLY
We’ve all been to airports and seen that row of car rental booths and there is no denying that car rentals are a great way to see the country you are visiting but just don’t hire from the airport as they up the prices so wait until you reach your destination instead.

DUTY FREE BAG
This is a hack we only recently discovered and we LOVE it! We hate that all the different airlines have different rules on hand baggage some you can only take one bag others you can take 2 bags (1 small wheelie suitcase and a hand bag). This make travelling much more complicated, especially if you fly somewhere with one airline and back with another. However we have a sneaky solution, all airlines also allow a duty free bag. So why not head to duty free buy something small and ask for a large carrier bag, you can then put your hand bag in here and not have to worry about stuffing it into you suitcase….. genius!

Laughing At Bloggers

Kindest doesn’t cost a thing, so why are many people so unkind?

This is something we have wanted to write about for quite some time but have put it off as it isn’t the most positive of topics. But you know what we want to be real and with that sometimes comes a bit of negativity.

We both work full time during the week so the weekends are the only opportunity we get to create as much content as possible for our blog and Instagram.

Last Saturday we visited a coffee shop in Shoreditch and ordered our first iced coffee of the summer (exciting times), we stepped outside and decided to photograph our coffees, true blogger style of course!

We will set the scene; Rach was holding the coffee in the air as we wanted to get the shop sign in shot, when we noticed a group of friends pointing and laughing at us from inside the cafe. They were doing it in such a way that they actually wanted us to see, it was incredibly rude and made us feel really self-conscious. I asked one of them if they had a problem with what we were doing, to which one of them deliberately tried to get into shot trying to make it impossible for us to get a photograph without him in it. He was laughing hysterically covering his mouth and pretending to spit out his drink, did he not have anything better to do with his Saturday?

We eventually gave up and sat down on the outside seating area angry and upset with what had just happened, we were discussing the situation with one another when the girl sitting beside us who was also friends with this guy turned around and said ‘this is a public place’, we are not really too sure what she meant by this but surely with it being a public place your friend should have a bit of respect and shouldn’t be so rude?  Would he find it funny if we turned up to his job and started laughing at his work?

We don’t mind if people want to laugh about what we do but when you are deliberately being so unkind about us in front of our faces it’s just not very nice at all. We felt like we were back in the school playground and felt so awkward with the situation we had to leave. We wouldn’t have the audacity to be so cruel to someone, how do these people live a life like that? We would feel awful for being so unkind.

This isn’t the first time it has happened either, if happens every single weekend without a shadow of a doubt we will have at least one person point and laugh, sometimes we ignore it, sometimes we wave at them to which they usually look incredibly embarrassed and run away and other times it really gets us down.

We can’t be the only ones this happens to? When are people going to realise that it’s not that weird being a blogger? Especially not in London!

Jazz Apples Overnight Oats

We love oats they are our go to breakfast almost every day, they keep us fuller for longer and they are so versatile so we never get bored.

In the winter we love a warming bowl of porridge whereas in the summer we always reach for overnight oats.

We love overnight oats they are delicious and super convenient as you can make them the night before in a jam jar and take them with you to work you the next day. We especially love adding fruit into our oats during the summer months and Jazz apples seemed like the perfect choice.

Jazz Apples were our Apples of choice, if you haven’t heard of Jazz apples before they are a funky fusion of a Braeburn and a Royal Gala, they are tangy-sweet and refreshingly crunchy. The great thing about Jazz apples is that they have a fruit bowl life of up to four weeks.

Jazz Apples are grown all year round in the UK, New Zealand, France, Italy, USA, Chile, Switzerland, Austria and Australia. You can purchase Jazz apples in all major supermarkets in the UK; Aldi, Asda, Co-op. Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose.

You can find our delicious overnight oats recipe below which we have enjoyed on several occasions either outside in the sunshine whilst having a summer breakfast picnic or when we need a quick and easy breakfast during the week which we can enjoy dining al desko.

Ingredients (serves 2)
80g oats
100ml milk (we used soya milk)
150g Greek Yoghurt
1.5 tsp Cinnamon
1tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Grated Apple
1 Sliced Apple

Method

Grate the apple into a medium sized mixing bowl

Add the oats, milk, yoghurt, Cinnamon & Maple Syrup and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined

Leave to sit on the side and slice the 2nd Apple

Place 2 slices at the bottom of each Jam jar and top with a table spoon of oats- continue to do this until your jam jar is full.

Chop two of the slices up and use as a topping as well as a sprinkle of cinnamon

Put the lid on the jam jar and put them in the fridge overnight or for a couple of hours

When you are ready to eat remove from the fridge and enjoy!

This was a sponsored post, all views are our own.

A Summer Trip To Long Island

We always recommend to people that they should visit the USA because it’s such a a great holiday destination, Rach travelled around America in the summer and absolutely loved it. We will always have a place for New York in our heart and Long Island is a stunning part of the USA which is a very popular attraction for tourists all over the country and all over the world too. If you are looking for a place to visit this year in the New York area, here is the perfect place to be.

ENJOY THE BEACHES

If you book yourself a stay in the Melville Marriott Long Island you will be able to pack up a bag and explore the many beaches which grace the coast of this island. There are beaches with sand as white as snow, ones with secret coves and ones with incredible views. If you love the beach just like we do, Long Island can give you a magical experience.

OUTDOOR CONCERT

One of the greatest things about the summer season is the ability to be outside off a huge portion of the day. Long Island makes the most of this and hosts outdoor concerts in multiple spaces such as the Clark Botanic Garden, Glen Cove, and North Hempstead. All you need to do is bring a couple of fold up chairs, a blanket and plenty of snacks to enjoy music as the sun is shining.

ENJOY NATURE

Long Island is a great place for you to step away from the buzzing atmosphere of the city and enjoy a more peaceful day. You will be able to enjoy lots of different outdoor spaces and gardens and take your time taking in the various flora and fauna on offer. It is the perfect place for you to refresh your mind and enjoy the simplicity of a summer’s day- sounds like the perfect day to us.

WALKING TOUR

If one of your aims this year is to stay a little more active during your holiday, then a walking tour of the island is the ideal way to spend one of your days. It will give you the chance to stretch your legs, discover new areas and learn more about the history of the island in relation to the rest of the country.

PLAY GOLF

If a perfect summer day for you involves teeing up and playing a round of golf in the summer sun, then you certainly won’t be disappointed when it comes to Long Island, the island has many different golf courses which will be perfect for the beginner all the way up to the professional. Have some fun playing this sport with your friends and your family.

BOAT TRIP

If you love the wind whipping through your hair and the fresh sea breeze taking your breath away, what better way to cool down on a hot day than take a boat ride? We cannot go on holiday and not go a boat trip, it’s kinda become a holiday tradition of ours! There are plenty of places where you can hire a boat or get on a ferry to jump over the the main city, and it will be a fun adventure for the whole of the family. Some boats will even let you bring your dogs along so it can be a fun experience for them too!

Delights On The Iberian Peninsula

We have had our eye on visiting Iberian Peninsula, a bit of a random choice you make think? Read this blog post to see why we REALLY want to visit and why you should as well!

So maybe we should start by telling you what the Iberian Peninsula is. The peninsula is the westernmost point of the continuous European continent. When most people think of the Iberian peninsula, they tend to think it comprises of two countries: Spain and Portugal. We didn’t actually know until we did a bit of research that Andorra is also located on the peninsula and so is a small portion of France and Gibraltar.

So why should we visit we hear you asking? It really does seem like there is something for everyone to do! It’s doesn’t have to be your typical beach holiday (although the beaches do look beautiful). There is so much more to the region. That’s why it’s good to shed some light on the other types of holidays available in the area, as there’s a very good chance some people just don’t know about.

SKIING
Andorra, the tiny country is particularly well known for the quality of its ski slopes and nearby resorts. The skiing holiday industry in Andorra is booming, and there’s a range of slopes offering different challenges for different levels of expertise. We would love to get ourselves to Andorra to experience the skiing there.

Sierra Nevada resort in Spain is another well known skiing resort on the Iberian Peninsula.

It’s also worth knowing there are also skiing resorts in Portugal, So while one might not imagine a skiing holiday when considering a trip to the countries on the Iberian peninsula, there are actually plenty of options you might want to consider exploring.

HIKING
There’s plenty of options across the Iberian peninsula for hiking.

La Concha mountain is known for being a wonderful place to hike. It overlooks Marbella, which is a wonderful destination in itself. The combination of the lively nightlife of Marbella and the mountainous background is truly spectacular; you may even find yourself tempted to look for property for sale in Marbella so you can visit again and again (we can keep dreaming)!

If you’re feeling brave, then hiking the Caminito Del Rey is a must-visit. This hike has been dubbed one of the most dangerous in the world, and actually had to close for renovations to try and improve the safety. Don’t worry, though; the work was successful, and this truly amazing route was reopened to the public in 2015.

Climbing the famous Rock of Gibraltar is also a worthy hike, especially if you’re an animal lover. You’ll delight in the Barbary macaques that line the most common routes, and the view from the top of the Rock is spectacular.

BEACHES
There are so many incredible beaches we would LOVE to visit! We sure do love a good beach:

Playa de Mazagon is on the western coast of Spain, not far from the Portuguese border. It is known for its golden sandy beaches, clear waters, and the gorgeous cliffs and pine trees. The nearby resort has all you could ever need from a relaxing beach holiday, including luxury hotels and excellent dining facilities.

If you’re looking for a beach in Portugal, then look no further than the Algarve region. The Algarve is a familiar destination for thousands of holidaymakers, but its popularity doesn’t diminish the fact that the area makes for a truly outstanding destination. If you’re looking for a classic sun and sand holiday, then any of the resorts on the Algarve will more than meet your needs.

It is impossible not to mention the Costa Del Sol. The Costa Del Sol is, as the name suggests, a beautifully warm and sunny place to visit, and a huge amount of effort has gone into ensuring that tourists feel as happy as possible when visiting the area. We mentioned Marbella above as a hiking destination, but it’s also an excellent choice if you’re looking for a convenient beach holiday where the weather is good, the water is warm, and there’s plenty of nightlife to keep you entertained- sounds like the perfect destination to us.

HISTORY
This is an area where the Iberian peninsula truly flourishes! Find some of them below, but we think this doesn’t event touch the surface:

Grenada might not be the most well-known Spanish city, but if you are a fan of history and culture is definitely going to want to visit. The city is home to the Alhambra, a particularly impressive palace and fortification that still stands in remarkably good condition.

A visit to Sortelha in Portugal is always going to be an excellent choice. It is a well-preserved ancient fortress which would make for an incredible day out. There are tons of bars, cafes and hotels in the area so it would also be the perfect place to stay.

We would love to visit the city of visiting of Cadiz, it has some incredible culture and it has an old style feel. There are lots of museums j. The city and while not necessary historical there is also the Saatchi gallery in Cadiz.

The Iberian peninsula should be able to satisfy all kinds of travellers. So whether you decide to head for Spain, Portugal, Andorra, or even the small sections of France and Gibraltar the Iberian peninsula truly is the travel destination that has it all.

So do you think you might be tempted to visit one of the countries on the Iberian peninsula in future? We know we certainly are!

MIA Chocolate Review

We had never heard of MIA chocolate but oh my are we glad we have been introduced to the brand because we have fallen in love with the majority of the flavours (the candid orange one is to die for and so is the hazelnut and cranberry)!

One of the things we particular like about the brand MIA is their name. The name MIA is quite cool for a chocolate brand but it actually stands for Made In Africa; everything the company produces is sourced and made in Africa. In addition the company believes in making delicious, unique and premium food fairly.

Did you know that 65% of the world cocoa is produced in Africa, but only 1% is actually made in Africa? That is so crazy!

Each and every product that is made by MIA is entirely crafted by communities in Africa. They want to create more jobs on a continent where a single income can support an entire family.

One of the many things we love about MIA is the packaging. It’s so beautiful and really makes the chocolate stand out from other bars.

100% COCOA
We had never tried chocolate with a percentage of 100% so we were particularly excited to try this. This was the first of the flavours we tried and it sure is bitter! We have really enjoyed mixing it into our porridge in the morning and also making hot chocolate with it. Personally for us 100% is a bit on the bitter side we can cope with 90% but that extra 10% really does make a difference.

75% DARK CHOCOLATE
75% was the perfect % of cocoa for us and we thoroughly enjoyed this bar, it was the perfect post dinner snack. It was sweet enough to satisfy our sweet cravings but didn’t result in us eating the entire bar which was good as we wanted to savour it and enjoy it on several occasions and not just in one go. We can also imagine this would taste delicious in home baked cookies or muffins.

65% ALMOND & COCONUT
In every mouthful you could taste the savoury almond and sweet coconut flavours coming through which were are great combination and really work well together as flavours. The coconut makes the chocolate taste creamy and delicious as well which we thoroughly enjoyed. We would definitely recommend this flavour it was the perfect snack.

65% CANDID ORANGE
This flavour tasted amazing, the smooth 65% dark chocolate with candid orange was the perfect mix. We love anything orange flavoured especially chocolate so we had a feeling we were going to love this bar before we had even tried it. If we weren’t careful we could’ve eaten the whole bar! This the perfect sweet treat to enjoy in the evening whilst chilling on the sofa! We would also be more than happy to give these as presents to people as the packaging looks pretty and not to mention how delicious it is.

65% CRANBERRY & HAZELNUT
Chocolate and Hazelnut has got to be one of our favourite combinations EVER! We are obsessed so we were really excited to try the cranberry and hazelnut MIA bar. We certainly were not disappointed with the bar we especially loved the sprinkling of roasted hazelnuts that covered the bar giving it that extra crunch. There was a good amount of dried cranberries as well giving the bar a sweet yet slightly sour taste.

65% COCONUT
we loveeeee coconut and always forgot how amazing it tastes when added to chocolate. MIA use caramalised coconut shavings in this bar which adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the 65% cocoa bar.

You can purchase MIA chocolate online on their website, the chocolate is £4.00 per 75g bar or you can purchase a 6 bar multipack for £20.40. MIA chocolate would make the perfect gift for any chocolate lover.

You can also purchase the chocolate over on http://www.cocoarunners.com/ and http://www.boroughbox.com/

Hello Spring

We absolutely love the four English Seasons, but it just seems like winter lasts forever and always over stays it’s welcome. It’s safe to say we are excited about the warmer temperatures and we are well and truly welcoming spring with open arms. We have been wishing for warmer weather since February but the more we wished the colder it gets.

Easter has been and gone and there STILL wasn’t any sign that spring is on the way accept the fact the clocks changed and it’s lighter in the evenings YAY!

This week though eeeek! We have been in our element loving the hot summer like days (hotter than Ibiza). We feel like we have got our mojo back and a spring in our step! It really is crazy what a bit of vitamin D can do to your mood!

There are so many things we have been missing about spring so we thought we would write a little list about all the things we are looking forward to and have been enjoying this week:

LONGER DAYS
Longer days means we will actually get to see daylight. Driving to work in the dark and leaving work in the dark really starts to take its toll after a while.

ICED COFFEE
We love an iced coffee and it isn’t something we would choose to have in the winter so by the time spring comes around we are well and truly ready to be re united with our one true love.

WARMER WEATHER
Warmer weather means we can wear t-shirts without having to weather a jumper over the top YAY for all the slogan t-shirts we have in our lives. We will no longer have to pack 17 layers in our bags when we leave the house YAY!

DRIVING IN THE SUNSHINE
Okay so this one might sound a bit strange but we love driving in the sunshine with our sunglasses on, windows down, music on and singing at the top of our voices we LOVE it.

BEER GARDEN
Sitting in a beer garden on a Saturday afternoon is just pure perfection, day drinking in the summer is so much fun.

SUN GLASSES
Who doesn’t love going into Primark and purchasing every single pair of sunglasses? We never spend money on expensive pairs of sunglasses as we always find they break! We live in sunglasses in the summer!

PICNICS
Just an excuse to eat your body weight in food and drink all the Pimms! We love a pick a mix style lunch for picnics are perfect for just that.

LONG EVENING WALKS
Evening walks when the sun is beginning to set are literally one of our favourite things about spring and summer. We love walking through the woods and fields breathing in the fresh country side air!

Reasons You Need to Move to London

For many people, taking the plunge and moving out of the family home isn’t an easy decision as its not necessarily essential. For others a job may mean you have to move out of your family home and into your own accommodation.

Summer of last year I moved to London and it was the best decision I ever made, so I thought I would share reasons why you too need to take the plunge and come to London too.

1) London is such a fab city
2) You can cook whatever you want for dinner
3) After work drinks are much easier to get home from and doesn’t take 2 hours!
4) You can host dinner parties and catch up with your pals over delicious food
5) The night tube runs to your area
6) The chance to explore a totally new area
7) You make a whole new bunch of friends
8) Its not frowned upon to have a girlie evening on the sofa eating chocolate and watching rubbish TV
9) The amount of places for brunch in London gets bigger and bigger and on the weekend there brunch is just on your doorstep
10) Summer is just around the corner, and summer in London is amazing, evening drinks on roof terraces, cycling bikes around one of the many parks, or sunbathing in the park, London is glorious in the summer sun, so what are you waiting for…… get your bum to London!

And if your worrying about doing your own cleaning, don’t worry Fantastic Services have got you covered. They are your one stop shop for all home services.

We use Fantastic Services to ensure our flat is kept super clean and we love the ease and convenience of this service.

STAXX Protein Bars Review

We had never heard of STAXX Bars before we were very kindly sent them to review as they have recently launched three new flavour- Peanut & Caramel, Cookies & Cream & Dark Chocolate Mint. STAXX previously only had the Chocolate Caramel flavour. We couldn’t wait to try all of the flavours when they arrived as they all sounded delicious.

You can currently purchase STAXX bars on the website or across many other independent and online retailers including Amazon and Muscle food.

We can honestly say that STAXX bars are the nicest protein bars we have EVER tried, and we have tired a lot. We LOVE the fact you cannot taste the protein in the bars which is something we have struggled to find.

When we eat a STAXX Bar it feels like you are eating a chocolate bar, it really hits the spot and doesn’t leave us craving more sugary foods. The sugar content is low with most of them having about 2g of sugar per bar which is also another bonus. They also contain 20g Protein and are also low in net carbs.

We love how chewy the STAXX Bars are as well, they all have a caramel consistency to them which you will also love if you like a chewy protein bar. All the bars have a chocolate rice crispy coating on the outside layer which is something we really enjoyed.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
This was the first flavour we tried and immediately fell in love with the brand and the bars they had on offer. Chocolate caramel was also the first STAXX Bar launched and the only one you can currently purchase on their website. I felt like I was eating a toffee crisp which was a massive throw back as I have not had a toffee crisp in SO long, those chocolate bars are so under rated!

PEANUT & CARAMEL
This one was quite similar to the chocolate caramel flavour just with peanuts. We love peanuts and anything nutty  so this bar was right up our street. We loved the caramel in the bar mostly because we are fast eaters and it slowed us down so we could saviour it for longer.

DARK CHOCOLATE MINT
Dark Chocolate Mint was definitely one of my favourites which I was really surprised about but that is just purely down to the fact I always forget how much I actually enjoy mint flavoured chocolate. It reminded me of a mint Aero but with a crispy outer layer.

COOKIES & CREAM
I left this flavour until last as I am not usually a fan of cookies and cream flavoured products but when I did eventually try it I actually really enjoyed it.  It wasn’t my favourite out of the four as it didn’t give me that WOW factor and the flavours were not as intense.

We enjoyed the bars so much we headed straight to the website and ordered a box. There is a taster box available where you can purchase a box of all the flavours for £8.99. We ordered 12 of the Chocolate Caramel Flavour because it was our favourite but we will be ordering some of the Dark Chocolate Mint ones as well.

We hope to see STAXX bars in supermarkets in 2018 because that would be amazing!