Saturday

May in review


This May has been so much fun! My summer has well and truly kicked off, with so many fun days. The best bit? It's only going to get better!

Favourite outfit


Pink and polkadots are always a winner for me! 

Favourite book

My favourite Murakami by far! I saw way too much of myself in South of the Border, West of the Sun

Favourite day out

The Roman Baths are the most wonderful place! 

Other favourites

Bath Abbey is a beautiful example of gothic architecture. 

My stay at Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel was lovely! 

On meritocracy and women in the boardroom.
I had a lot of fun exploring Westfield Stratford City
A lovely picnic in the park

A visit from my family.

My rook piercing: One month on

Word of the month

Well, I've been posting to Instagram every day (you can keep up with me here). Unfortunately, I have to admit that I completely forgot about my other two goals- To finish and develop my 2006 disposable camera, and to shoot a roll of film. Maybe I'll repeat this goal in July, since I'll be in Florida. Perfect opportunity! 

By the way, if you enjoy reading my blog and would like to see me up for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award, you can nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog here. I'll send virtual cake to everyone who nominates! 

Wedding plans: May


Oh my goodness, 2.5 months to go until the first wedding! Things are getting pretty close! 

Picked up my wedding ring

I took my wedding ring to the jewellers this month to be resized and reshaped around my engagement ring. I was engagement ring-less for a couple of weeks which made me feel very lonely, but it was absolutely worth it! My grandma's wedding ring (read the story here) has been resized and reshaped perfectly around my engagement ring. I am so in love with it and I cannot wait to wear it every day for the rest of my life! Here's a photo of how they fit together: 



Had my hen do
My hen do was such a lot of fun. Expect a post about it in the next couple of days. 

Written up the guest list for our England wedding
I know this is something you should really do at first, but we got a little caught up on all the fun stuff. Nevertheless, it's (mostly) written up now and invitations will shortly be sent out. After being ordered, of course... 

By the way, if you enjoy reading my blog and would like to see me up for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award, you can nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog here. I'll send virtual cake to everyone who nominates!

Friday

FF XCIV


Leona has posted all about our time in London
Amber's outfit is lovely, but it's her hilarious commentary that makes this post. 
Kailey looks so perfectly summery
Midge's gallery wall is perfection! 
Annika's boyfriend gave her a birthday treasure hunt and it's the cutest thing. Hey, Rich, it's my birthday in a couple of weeks...
Zoe made a cake of herself. What an awesome idea! 

Weekly wishlist
Pepsi sweatshirt
Every blogger needs to wear this Topshop X Ashish t-shirt to events! 
When I eventually get round to having a home office, this be bold mini banner will go on the wall!
How much do I need a unicorn lamp?
I want this stegosaurus watercolour print
What a pretty cushion
I have no need for a T-rex pocket mirror but I really, really want one! 
Yes, I will be buying the Gerard Way t shirt.

Other favourites
Michael Gove is proposing the most ridiculous changes to the GCSE English literature curriculum and it's made me all kinds of angry. Of course, 14 year old boys will love to read Jane Austen... Please sign this petition to reconsider the changes. 

I've wanted to learn another language for the longest time. I learned German at GCSE but didn't keep it up and forgot everything. Rich introduced me to Duolingo and it's amazing! A really easy, fun way to learn a whole host of languages. At the moment, they have German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portugese available, but there's another 7 in the pipeline including Irish, Polish and Russian. (This isn't a paid link- I just really love it!) 

Twitter changed my profile to the new design, so my profile header didn't fit anymore. This guide to the new Twitter header dimensions was insanely helpful!

Gerard Way is making his solo global debut at Reading Festival. I will be there! 

Book review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running- Haruki Murakami
I've wanted to read this book for a very long time. Haruki Murakami has only released two non-fiction books and this particular one is a memoir. I was desperate to find out more about him so I couldn't wait to dive into this book.

What's interesting about this book is that it is, unsurprisingly given the title, centred around running. Murakami explains that he is a keen marathon runner and, as he prepares for various marathons and triathlons over the period of 2005/2006, he shares his thoughts and feelings on his progress. As I am, quite clearly, not a runner, I did worry that I would find this central theme a little alienating but, in fact, running almost becomes a metaphor. You could replace the concept of running with any other passion in your own life and still find it relevant.
For a while now, I have been trying to pinpoint why I enjoy Murakami's novels so much. After reading a couple of pages, I understood. He just gets me. We speak the same language (well, I don't speak Japanese, but you know what I mean!). He has a dry sense of humour and a very realistic sense of his own flaws. 

The chapters in this memoir were written in a linear fashion on an as-and-when basis, so they do sometimes read a little disjointed. I also found that some chapters were a lot more effective than others, which seemed to be based on Murakami's mood and motivation when he was writing.
Overall, I found it interesting to develop some understanding towards the author of some of my favourite books. I'm not sure I'd recommend it unless you were a huge fan yourself but, since I am a fan, I'd love to read a full autobiography someday! 

By the way, if you enjoy reading my blog and would like to see me up for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award, you can nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog here. I'll send virtual cake to everyone who nominates! 

Thursday

101 in 1001 XVIII


May has been a really busy month for me, and I managed to check off a whole bunch of my travel goals towards my 101 in 1001. With so many other events coming up this summer (Hello, Florida wedding!), I'm going to have most of it completed by September. 

#29 Visit Bath 
My visit to Bath was wonderful! The Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and Bath Fashion Museum. I'll certainly be going back soon! 

#34 Visit Bristol
As well as having a whole lot of fun in Bath, I also got to spend a lovely time in Bristol! 

#35 Visit London Dungeons
For my hen do, I visited the London Dungeon. It was terrifying but in a very good way! 

#96 Read 75 books (66/75)
9 to go! And still 11 months left. I think it's safe to say I'm going to achieve this goal. Wonder if I can make 150?

#101 Watch all the films
I had heard a lot of negative reviews about Dorian Gray but it wasn't as bad as I expected. Not incredible, by any means, but not a terrible adaptation. 

By the way, if you enjoy reading my blog and would like to see me up for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award, you can nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog here. I'll send virtual cake to everyone who nominates!

100 Happy Days: May


My boo, Leona, recently completed the 100 Happy Days challenge on Instagram and I decided I wanted a piece of that action. For those of you who don't know, all you need to do is post a photo of something that makes you happy for 100 days. Easy peasy, right? 

After making a start, I thought it might be nice to create a monthly round up where I post 9 of my happiest days on here for you all to see. I'm well aware that I post a fair few monthly round ups, but I think it's better to keep my 101 in 1001 and my 100 Happy Days posts separate from my month in review posts. I know it means I repeat some things, but I'd rather that than post one massive post at the end of each month that tries to encompass everything. I promise, though, that if I have an idea for another kind of round up, I'll merge it with an existing series! 
Day 6: This sign really made me smile!
Day 14: A Japanese biscuit that made me laugh far more than I should have!
Day 16: A beautiful sunny day (and I got to see my GP, who I am in love with!)

Day 18: Enjoying a pub lunch with Marie
Day 19: My wedding ring arrived!
Day 24: My hen do in London with my 2 favourite people!
Day 25: A lovely visit from my brother and sisters
Day 26: Visiting The Roman Baths
Day 27: Staying the night in the lovely Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel.

If you want to keep up with my progress, you can follow my Instagram right here

By the way, if you enjoy reading my blog and would like to see me up for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award, you can nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog here. I'll send virtual cake to everyone who nominates! 

Wednesday

Review: Phoenix Restaurant at Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel



Earlier today, I posted my review of Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel and Spa. Whilst there, we visited the Phoenix Restaurant for both dinner and breakfast, and thought it deserved its own review.

Dinner
When we checked in, Monika allowed us to choose our own time for dinner between 6:30pm and 10:00pm. We chose 7pm and were seated by Oleg, who was very polite and helpful. He told us the specials, poured us water and explained the menu. We were given a set menu but were also given the option of ordering items separately from the standard menu if we'd wanted, with items up to a value of £19.95 inclusive and additional costs paid separately. 

For starter, I chose the prawn and crayfish cocktail. When it arrived, I was blown away by the gorgeous presentation. 


The fish was pressed together to form a cake-like shape. It had a light, fluffy texture and tasted amazingly fresh. The lime added a zesty contrast. Absolutely delicious!

For my main course, I chose the cheese and bacon steak burger with fries. It was divine! The beef was very juicy and succulent, with a slight peppered flavour and a lightly toasted bun. The best thing about the burger was that the lettuce and tomato was served on the side, so I didn't need to pick out the tomatoes! I think every restaurant should serve the tomato separately.

The mayonnaise is served in a really cute little bucket, and it also comes with a jar of relish which has a smoky taste with a gentle chilli kick in the aftertaste. 

For pudding, I settled on the triple scoop of ice cream, which came garnished with a dark chocolate stem. There was a huge selection of flavours to choose from, so I found it difficult to pick but eventually plumped for the rich Belgian chocolate, sweet butterscotch and subtle, creamy honeycomb. 

The food was served very quickly by Ana, and we were also assisted by Lucasz and Pramod who were equally as helpful. Although we had to pay for our drinks separately, our Cokes were only £2.50 each, so it was hardly a stretch. We were both very impressed with our dinner.

Breakfast

Breakfast is served from 7am until 10am and is self-service, so you can just turn up when you're ready, sit down and pick up some food from the buffet table. The restaurant has a huge selection of different breakfasts, both continental and cooked, so you'll definitely find something for you. I'm very fussy when it comes to breakfast and I had no trouble filling up for the day ahead! 
The jams and marmalades are locally sourced and available for purchase if you want to take a big jar home with you.
The patisserie tray was my favourite. Pain au chocolat and Danish pastries. Mmm! They were both really light and fluffy, and the Danish pastries had a delicious lemon glaze.
Rich prefers a cooked breakfast, so he headed straight over to the English breakfast section. There were chafing dishes filled with bacon, sausages, fried and scrambled eggs and all the trimmings: Hash browns, mushrooms and baked beans. In Rich's words "It was really yummy". 

Both of my meals were absolutely delicious, and the friendly, efficient staff made the dining experience really enjoyable. Another huge positive in my Mercure stay!

By the way, if you enjoy reading my blog and would like to see me up for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award, you can nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog here. I'll send virtual cake to everyone who nominates!

Review: Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel and Spa


Last month, Rich and I celebrated our 6th anniversary of being together. We had planned to spend a weekend away somewhere with a spa but life got in the way and we didn't get around to it. Then, in a wonderful example of perfect timing, I was contacted and offered the chance to review a Mercure hotel of my choice. I chose the Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel as it would give us the opportunity to visit both Bristol and Bath, and there was an on-site spa. Perfect!

Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel is a 4 star hotel half a mile west of Bristol Temple Meads station. It was converted from a 1970s office block opposite a council estate but it's exterior is deceptive. Inside, it has a sleek, sophisticated interior that exudes relaxation.

We were greeted on reception by Monika, who was very helpful and answered all of our questions clearly and thoroughly. She gave us two keys, explained the timings of all the facilities, booked us in for dinner at 7pm and off we went to find our room. 

The Room

We had been booked into a superior double room, with a glorious king size bed! 
The room had satellite TV, a large wardrobe, hairdryer, air conditioning and free wifi. Yes! Although the wifi was low bandwidth, I had no issues using it for browsing the internet and blogging, and you can purchase high bandwidth wifi if you need it. 
 I loved the capability for plugging your MP3 player into the TV and playing it through the speakers. 

Miniature toiletries! Yes!

Look at the size of that bed! It was so comfortable, with plenty of room for starfishing without pushing Rich off the edge! The Egyptian cotton sheets were crisp and cosy in equal measure. I had such a good night's sleep!

The Facilities

The indoor heated pool was open until 11pm, which I was very impressed with. We had such a busy day and it was great knowing that the pool would be open until late. It has three comfortable recliners and a shower at the poolside so you can rinse off before and after entering the pool. As the pool is unsupervised, you need to go to reception beforehand to fill in a form and receive a key to get into the changing rooms, which have showers, hairdryers and a huge pile of white fluffy towels. They also have lockers for a £1 deposit, so you don't need to worry about keeping an eye on your things. Last entry to the pool is at 10pm, and we were happy that the only other people in the pool left at that time. We had a whole hour of uninterrupted swimming, meaning I could splash about and practise my "synchronised swimming" without judgement!
 In the afternoon, Rich and I spent some time in the Phoenix Bar. It's filled with squishy sofas and comfortable chairs, and is very well-stocked. You can buy a whole range of bar food, from cheesy garlic bread to fish and chips. The large windows covering an entire wall let in a lot of natural light and, of course, there's that free wifi I mentioned earlier. It was the perfect place for me to settle down to a bit of blogging.

The Spa
As an anniversary treat, Rich treated me to a full body massage in the onsite Spa Naturel. Although well signposted, it was a little difficult to find as you need to leave out of what looks like a fire exit. It turned out that the spa is in a little outbuilding in the car park, although once you're inside, you'd never know it.
I waited in the relaxation lounge with a glass of water, with soft, relaxing music playing in the darkened room until my very lovely therapist Jodie picked me up. I was a little nervous as I'd never had a massage before and didn't know what to expect, but Jodie explained the whole process to me before she began. The room was dark, lit with candles, soft music playing, and filled with a wonderful scent of lavender. I had a few knots in my back, so Jodie had to be quite firm at first, but after she'd kneaded them all out, it was very relaxing and calming. I came out after an hour, feeling like a new woman! 

My stay at Mercure Bristol Holland House was wonderful. I will definitely be staying next time I'm in Bristol, and booking myself in for a massage, and I fully recommend it to anyone else visiting the area. Thank you to everyone at Mercure for a wonderful stay! 

By the way, if you enjoy reading my blog and would like to see me up for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award, you can nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog here. I'll send virtual cake to everyone who nominates!

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