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Nights Out

So, as many of you may know, I’ve spent my summer writing an MA dissertation about Tinder. Yes, Tinder.  I definitely had not planned to spend a summer after having broken up with a boyfriend (sorry, I promise this won’t turn into some sort of DMC) thinking and writing about other peoples love lives but in retrospect its actually been quite therapeutic and has given me an interesting insight into how other people my age go about finding love or just a bit of fun.  These days, we’re all so glued to our phones (I sleep with mine IN my bed) that it almost seems like a natural progression to start finding our next love/bed warmer/flirtexter (I’ve just coined that phrase, I’m well aware it won’t take on) inbetween obsessively checking Twitter, Instagram and chatting aimlessly to Siri.

Having spent hours in the library pouring over my research, I thought I’d share some of my wisdom with the masses (or just the few people that occasionally read this blog including my dad, just a heads up, this probably isn’t one to send onto grandma), so here we go:

– The first thing that emerged throughout my research was the variety of intentions with which people are using the app.  From looking for a long-term partner to purely using it to take the piss out of others at pre-drinks, there really are as many different intentions as there are users.  While it is hard to gauge intentions from someones profile, I’d say as a hard and fast rule, if a guys profile is just a picture of his goolies, hes probably not looking to settle down just yet.  But, you know, thats just my opinion.  My advice?  Don’t invest yourself fully in the idea that you’ll find your future husband/wife on Tinder, instead use it for casual dating or for a bit of an ego boost.

– Tinder is co-situational in nature so if you’re looking for a night out with a bit of footsie, most people don’t want to travel more than 30KM so make that your maximum distance setting.  If you are willing to travel the full 160KM to find someone, well...I think you should start reevaluating your priorities.  

Looks ARE everything (well on Tinder at least).  This app is a glorified Hot or Not game, so be warned, you’re going to be judged almost solely on your looks.  If you’re not comfortable with that, then just take the high road and bypass this fad.  Just remember ladies, we all thought Christian Bale in American Psycho was fit until it turned out he was a murderous arsehole.

– On that note, we all know that the secret to a good profile is to show off our good side and choose pictures which make us look like we’re desirable little mother fuckers.  BUT as tempting as it is to upload that picture of you from three years ago where you had a really fucking great tan and were skinny as hell because you’d just been to Zante for two weeks and had a dodgy tummy for the whole time you were there, those pictures might be a little misleading.  Try limit yourself to pictures which were taken in the last year (or even better, 6 months) and which are representative of yourself now.  If you’re not quite sure what you look like now or you have a sneaking suspicion that the mirror is lying to you, then ask a friend to have a check over your pictures because the punishment for misleading photos is for all contact to be severed and then you’ll have to make up a story as to why you and that fit guy from Tinder never went on a second date.

– Everyone loves a group photo.  Its the start of the night and you’ve all just had your first glass of wine, your makeup isn’t smeared, your eyes aren’t glassy yet and you all want to show off how many friends you have and how great they are!  YAY GIRLS NIGHT!  While you should probably include one group photo on your profile, don’t put it as your first photo as most people frankly can’t be arsed working out which one you are.

Pouty duckface.  We all know what I’m talking about.  Yes it brings out those barely there cheek bones, but its also really weird when you think about it.  What situation was she in for that expression to happen?  Is she happy/sad/constipated?  Is she okay?  Those are the questions a prospective match is going to be asking when he stumbles on your profile with all six of your photos looking like you’re mid-charades pose.  If you’re a serial duckface puller you may need to reconsider a lot more than just your profile pictures.  

– I’ve not updated my Facebook interests since I was about 14 and as a consequence, I am apparently a fan of such things as ‘dressing up as a seagull and walking around stealing peoples chips’ (something I have never done), ‘ditching your mates to hang out with your goat’ (don’t own a goat, but this is probably something I would do) and ‘going out and getting absolutely Charlie Sheened’ (I just sound like an absolute twat).  So although Tinder has an ‘interests’ section downloaded from Facebook, you probably don’t want to get too excited if you and this random man share ‘being a mac daddy pimp’ (another one of my ‘likes’) in common.  While they may not be too useful in actually gauging what kind of person this match is, they are a good first liner so at least theres that.  

– To bio or not to bio, that is the question.  While most online dating sites like Match.com get you to go through the whole convoluted process of writing out a bio where you’re forced to make yourself sound like you’re really bloody nice, when in reality you’ve got a perennial case of bitchy resting face as bad as Aubrey Plaza’s, Tinder lets you decide whether you want to warble on about yourself or not.  Keep it short and sweet and try to steer clear of cliches as no one actually wants a man who likes ‘long walks on the beach’ because they all sound like massive wetties.

– Also on the subject of bios, if you’re upwards of 15 years old and still typing in text speak, well just good luck with that.  

– A picture really can speak a thousand words on Tinder.  If you’re making claims in your bio that you love to try new things, you party as hard as Prince Harry in Vegas or that you found yourself while travelling to the inner most depths of the Amazonian jungle, then why don’t you prove it with a few pictures.  Bonus points if you are actually Prince Harry.

– So you’ve matched with someone, you’ve chatted a bit and you’re starting to think that you would quite like to meet this person face-to-face, but beforehand you’re going to do what any 90s kid would do in this situation and Internet stalk them.  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great places to gather information about someone and to check they really are who they say they are and most Tinderers admitted to having a snoop at others from the app, so you’re in good company.  Just be aware that if you’re having a snoop, others will be looking at you too, so if you’re not too enthused by that idea, make things private.  If you don’t give a flying fuck who sees that you Instagrammed a picture of you gorging on Dominos yesterday with one of your fake eyelashes falling off or tweeted an inspirational quote which may or may not have made you cry, then why not help your prospective stalkers along and put your social media handles in your bio.

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Just an example of the type of moronic pictures which I put on Instagram.  I barely spent any time in this pool because I WAS WRITING THIS DISSERTATION.  

– And lastly, ladies, a word of warning.  Do not treat the above behaviour as an issue of ensuring your ‘personal safety’.  Now, I don’t know about you but if I was a serial murderer, I probably wouldn’t have the twitter handle @ImGoingToSkinYouAlive or Instagram images of dark parks with the hashtag #MyKillingSpot so please please please do not think you can judge whether a person is capable of such things over social media.  We’re all presenting a front on here, whether we like to admit it or not.  I for one don’t post pictures of myself in the library on Instagram, even though this would be far more representative of my life than the 1% of the time that I spend on beaches but just happen to photograph.  Make sure you meet your date in a public place with plenty of people around, that you tell multiple people where you are going and with who and that you have your phone on you with full battery.  Also if you can, ask a friend to be on hand to pick you up and drop you off, firstly because then they at least know you got home safe, but secondly, because then you can tell them all the weird stuff your date inevitably did.  Lads, take this all into account as well, us ladies can be weird, wonderful and slightly psychotic at times.  

If you’re using Tinder, chances are you’re probably not looking for the next big love of your life, but just a bit of fun and a few nights out, so you may scoff at my advice, but you never know so keep your options open.  As for me, I think I’ll stick to the good old fashioned way and just wait for some poor unsuspecting fool to lower their standards and start feeling lonely and vulnerable and then swoop in.  60% of the time, it works everytime.  

Let me know if you agree/disagree/have anything else to add or just generally want to swap some stories.  

(P.S. I also want to add that I’m extremely grateful to all of you who took part in the research process!  I had an overwhelming response to the survey portion of my project and interviewed some great people who were more than willing to share their experiences on the app honestly and openly, which just made the whole process so much easier than what it could have been.  I’d defo swipe right for you all x) 

After going to the MET museum, my mum and I spent the rest of the day lost in Central Park.  I can tell you firsthand, that the streets of New York do not make you feel brand new, but rather the opposite after walking around all day.  How dare you lie to me Alicia Keys.  

The only cure for sore feet and the bitter feeling of betrayal?  A cupcake from Magnolia’s Bakery of course.

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After recharging our batteries with a sugary sweet treat, we headed to the Meatpacking District for drinks at the The Standard hotel.  As I’ve mentioned before, the Standard is now renowned for being the location of Solange and Jay-Z’s now infamous fight and I was on a mission to find out what really happened in that lift.  While from the outside, The Standard looks pretty, well…standard, resembling a glassy eyed council block, the inside is the real tour de force with the kind of sleek interiors which attracts models, ‘yes’ men and wayward artistes among the odd celebrity.

The bar at the top of The Standard is aptly named…The Top of The Standard.  Revolutionary branding.  The dress code depends less on what you’re wearing and more on who you are it seems, with some unlucky punters being turned away for wearing trainers, while others stroll through the golden gates with their dirty Converse trailing frayed laces.  Maybe its time to polish off the ‘don’t you know who I am’ gaff, just incase.

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Must have used a bit too much fake tan, looking a bit orange…

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Once inside – if you make it inside – you’re bathed in an orange light which evidently attracts the beautiful, the mildly famous and the grossly surgically enhanced like moths to the flame.  While I may not be any of the above, its hard to deny that the bar has a vibe which buzzes of the here and now.

When we arrived, it was heaving so the circular bar was surrounded by a two-deep layer of thirsty patrons waiting for the agonisingly slow barmen to pour their martini.  This is the kind of place where its best to order two rounds in one if you’ve got the gusto and the wallet for it. While the wait may be almost criminal, the measures are generous – Americans don’t use single or double measures apparently – so you get more ‘tini for your dolla’ than you would at an English bar of the same calibre.  Pros and cons, people.  

Of course, while the main draw of a bar is usually its alcohol and the main drawback its toilets, the Top of The Standard marches to a different beat with views and toilets which are both as fabulous as the other.  The floor to ceiling windows allow for a great view over to New Jersey and Manhattan and we were lucky enough to witness the city that never sleeps moving into the dark restless hours of the night.

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Toilefie? No, that doesn’t work…

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These same floor to ceiling windows are also what have made the toilets such a trending topic.  You can literally sit on the throne and continue to cast an eye over your kingdom.  While they became notorious at first, with office blocks opposite catching an eyeful every time someone answered the call of nature, a handy net curtain has now been erected to preserve your modesty, not so fun in my eyes.  

So, why did Solange and Jay-Z’s night end in fistie cuffs after their trip to The Standard?  Well, Jay-Z’s obvious penchant for strawberry daiquiri’s, ordered one at a time resulted in Solange missing a re-run of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’s finale  (her favourite show, obvs) and matters only got worse when an unfortunate incident in a toilet led to Solange baring her soul (strategic word replacement there) to this side of lower Manhattan before a psychedelic art installation playing on the TVs in the lifts caused her to spin out in a rage fuelled by strongly mixed cocktails.  No wonder Beyonce and Jay-Z’s statement was so vague.  

I think I’ve accidentally made this review a bit scathing, so don’t be perturbed, I’ve read nothing but good things about the food and hotel experience of staying at The Standard and while The Top of The Standard has great toilets and even greater views most of us know that this package comes with the kind of pretentiousness that is inherent in a place that has been tipped as a place to be seen, so we kind of asked for it.  In fact, the people watching is great and the experience wouldn’t be the same if it was just a load of old codgers ordering lager at the bar really would it?

You all probably know by now that I am in a committed relationship with food.  The best thing about being in love with food is the variety.  No two meals need be the same.  You can wake up next to Tony the Tiger, take lunch with Uncle Ben, go for a romantic dinner with Jamie Oliver and finish the day by watching a good film with those two lovely lads, Ben & Jerry.  Whatever your mood there is a meal to suit it and food never answers back, steals the covers or leaves towels on the floor.  What more could you want?

Now, don’t get me wrong, our relationship is great – even if it does occasionally cause my favourite jeans not to fit – but food can sometimes be an expensive partner to keep, so when I heard that NE1 would be hosting a Restaurant Week with some of the top eateries in Newcastle offering discounted meals, I was on the case straight away.

Cafe 21 is one of the premier restaurants in Newcastle and is usually a little bit out of my student budget but thanks to Restaurant Week, Emily, Zoe and I were swapping a medium chicken with peri peri chips for some posh grub – so posh we twice had to google what some of the words meant.  

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Pre-dinner stroll by the River Tyne 

For Restaurant week, Cafe 21 was offering a 2 course meal for £15 and a 3 course for £20, bargains.  As a starter and main kinda girl I opted for the Pheasant terrine with Pickled Young Vegetables to start followed by the Slow-Cooked Shoulder of Pork, Braised White Cabbage, Bramley Apple and Black Pudding Mash with crackling for my main.

Now, don’t get too disheartened, the Pheasant Terrine won’t be the next Kate Moss of the food world as it doesn’t give good face but lets all remember that it’s the taste that matters and although I would have appreciated a bit more spread the terrine definitely tastes better than it looks.  Trust me. 

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Bad Instagram photos happen to us all, guys. 

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Being a recently converted pork fanatic after years of abstinence, I just had to try Cafe 21’s piggie offering.  The shoulder of pork was a huge juicy portion with lashings of black pudding speckled mash which is possibly my new favourite thing ever.  I know black pudding isn’t for everyone but I cannot get enough.  I love it so much it hurts.  

After a sneaky extra pudding of chocolate and banana ice cream, we headed out into the night for cocktails and some crude conversation.  My NE1 Restaurant Week experience was stellar and I will definitely be returning to Cafe 21 when I’m feeling a little bit flush.  My love for food didn’t break the bank this time, but watch this space.  

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After having a rather nice long break at home, it was almost time to head back to Newcastle but not before I made a quick detour to London for a girls weekend.  

Our first stop was Inamo on Lower Regent Street for a spot of dinner and, as it turns out, a bit of a play.  

Inamo is an Oriental Fusion restaurant with a bit of a twist.  Nestled inbetween the bamboo canes and sliding doors, are glowing interactive tables.

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I am attempting to give up Coke right now, I’m taking it one day at a time…

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These snazzy looking tables double up as waitresses/waiters and menus, allowing patrons to order everything with just a swipe of a finger.  The novelty doesn’t stop just there, as you can also watch a chef prepare your dishes on Chef Cam and play a quick pre-dinner game of Battleships, as you do.  

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Champagne cocktails all round 

Inamo’s menu is small but perfectly formed for those with a predisposition to sushi, sashimi and all things dim sum and  is perfect for sharing if you want to try a bit of everything!

After finishing off a game of Battleships, I ordered the Salmon Sashimi Plate, the Tuna Maki and some Duck Pancakes to share with Fiona.

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Salmon Sashimi Plate and Tuna Maki

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Tuna Maki

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Duck Pancakes

The Tuna Maki was my favourite, while the Duck was silky smooth and came straight off the bone but next time I visit, I will definitely be ordering a few more plates, including some dim sum to fill me up.

After we’d licked our plates clean, there was no unneccessary awkwardness about paying the bills  as each seat has a separate bill meaning everyone paid for what they ordered and no one was left scraping the pennies.  Perfect!  

Inamo is great, but it’s probably one of those places you visit once then never return as we all had to admit, it is a bit gimmicky and perhaps a little overpriced.  Nonetheless, I really enjoyed my time there and had a great laugh with the ladies!

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The Ladies 

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When planning my trip to London, I knew there was only one place I wanted to eat.  After trying Shake Shack in London’s Covent Garden last time I was in the capital, the next logical step in my culinary trip around London was Five Guys to determine which American import has the best burger.  

I had taken on, what I like to call: The Battle of the Burgers (cue dramatic music).

Five Guys was originally set up in Washington D.C. in 1986 but has since expanded all over the US with over 1000 franchises feeding hungry punters nationwide.  It’s delicious fayre has meant that it has achieved an almost cult like following and is regularly hailed as one of the best burger joints in the United States of America.  Similarly, the London franchise has quickly become known as a hot ticket and regularly has lines stretching around the block!

Although Rachel, my ever gracious host and I had had a rather heavy the night before, we made the trek down to Leicester Square in search of a meaty hangover cure.  Thankfully, the line outside was rather short when we arrived – possibly as it was raining and we had only managed to lure ourselves out of bed at 3pm – so within a quick 10 minutes of chewing on the free peanuts that are stacked by the door we were ordering our burgers.

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The menu at Five Guys is nice and simple, just how I like it.  Burgers come with either 1 or 2 patties and with the usual suspects, bacon or cheese.  Once you’ve decided on the basics, you then have a whole board of extras to choose from, including jalapenos, tomato, lettuce, pickles and loads more for free!  The endless list of extras mean that there are over 250,000 ways to have your burger so every trip to Five Guys can be a new experience!  I plumped for pickles, onion, tomato, mustard and ketchup and a small side of the chain’s famous cajun fries which are fried in peanut butter, a healthier alternative.

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A smashing endorsement by one of my favourite bloggers, The Londoner

Burger in hand, Rachel and I went to the drinks machine to fill up our glasses.  Little did we know that this would be an experience in itself!  The drinks machine has every imaginable fizzy drink and more just waiting to be drank by thirsty punters.  I’ll leave it there, so you guys can experience the mastery of this magical machine yourselves!

Now on to the burger.  It was honestly so good that I let out a little sigh of delight.  The meat is mouthwateringly juicy while the bun is super soft.  The cajun chips were almost as good as the burger and are a crispy delight.  Little tip: order a small side of fries!  The cup may look tiny but the cooks also scoop a healthy portion into your bag so you get almost triple what you ordered!

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They probably wouldn’t win any prizes for the best looking burger, but damn are they good! 

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After deliberating for…oh a second, Rachel and I both concluded that the burgers and chips at Five Guys were the clear winners and triumphed over Shake Shack’s efforts!

The battle of the burgers was a hard but necessary challenge, someone had to do it!

Have you eaten at Five Guys?  What is your favourite burger joint?

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I have an iTunes library which is full of the bric-a-brac of the musical world but within my vast collection there are a few gems which provide me with 3 minutes of musically induced euphoria.  For me, music is the best form of therapy and when I find a song whose lyrics articulate what I’m feeling better than I ever could myself, it’ll stay on a constant repeat until I feel ready to face the light of day again.  

Throughout the years of teenage trials and tribulations, university induced breakdowns and bouts of homesickness there has always been one artist whose music has been my go to therapeutic soundtrack.  John Mayer’s music has accompanied me everything and I particularly associate his dulcet tones with my travels back in 2010.  In my gap year I travelled both Borneo and America and although my location would regularly change from week to week, John’s music was on constant play throughout.  

On Sunday night, after years of hoping, I got to see John play at the O2 arena in London.  Fittingly, I was accompanied by three girls who I have shared some of my many travels with and although we didn’t have the best seats, it was one of the best nights.

John’s arrival on stage prompted an uncontrollable squeal from myself and the surrounding crowd, with one over enthusiastic lady letting out a groan of sheer of delight behind me.  Ooo-errr.  I had been worried that his set would be predominately material from his sixth album, Paradise Valley but every single album in his repertoire was visited meaning that his old classics, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room and Gravity had their fair share of air time alongside newer songs like Paper Doll and Something Like Olivia.  Although I had hoped that he would play Stop This Train – perhaps my favourite song of all time – his cover of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ was an even trade off and made me feel a bit weak at the knees.

Mayer’s voice is even better live and although he does make some quite questionable faces while playing guitar, no one can deny that the man would school the vast majority of us at Guitar Hero.  He even played one behind his back.  Yes, thats right, he played a guitar backwards!  For me, an added special touch was the graphics which played behind John for his whole set.  Throughout every song, pictures of Monument Valley transformed behind the band and if you know me, you’ll know that the Valley was one of my favourite places I visited back in 2010.  Perfect. 

If you ever have the chance to see John Mayer live then go for it!  You won’t regret it!

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For the last three years, I’ve been in denial about being a fan of One Direction.  Although I have downloaded both their albums, watch out for stories of the boys on Daily Mail and regularly find myself playing their music on a loop while enthusiastically singing along, I have always tried to deny to myself that I am infact a fan.  But this well kept charade (I’m sure my old housemates will dispute that it was well kept) soon came a-tumbling when I was asked by the girls at LOOK magazine to cover the One Direction premiere.  My immediate reaction was to shout YES! and to text my mum, friends, acquaintances, boyfriend, extended family and anyone else with a phone that I’ve met in the last 20 years of my life.  In that moment of pure unadulterated excitement I had to admit to myself that yes, I am a Directioner.  

I spent the rest of that day reading up about the boys foray into the silver screen and in the evening, I attended a preview  of the film with other press and Alex Zane who turned out to be hosting the premiere extravaganza the next day.  This is the kind of film where, if you aren’t a fan of the band then you just won’t go to see, but those who are even half interested in the lives of the members of one of the biggest boy bands ever should probably go have a watch!  It’s definitely guilty pleasure watching.

The next day, I headed into work and checked the Daily Mail which estimated that 70,000 pre-pubescent girls would be roaming the streets of Leicester Square all eager to get a glimpse of their favourite band member.  Only a couple of days before returning to LOOK, I had watched the Channel 4 documentary which followed some of the bands most obsessive fans, so with the knowledge of lengths to which fans would go to get a photo with the boys, I was fully prepared to be going into a One Direction inspired battlefield full of girls armed with sharpies and raging hormones.

When I did eventually get to the venue, press pass and premiere ticket in hand, the screams were pretty loud but I didn’t get accosted by any over enthusiastic Niall fans.  Success!  As I looked around at the eager girls (some of which were already crying) I spotted Australian, Brazilian and a number of international flags flying around which proved that 1D really do have some of the most passionate (and apparently loaded – what kind of 15 year old has the dosh to be able to fly half way across the world for a premiere?!) fans in the world.  The most bizarre moment of the whole event for me was spotting the adult woman walking down the red carpet in a wedding dress, complete with veil.  A brave and bold tactic which, I can only hope did not work with any of the band.  When the boys finally arrived after an endless amount of teasers, the screams were off decibel scale and although I managed to keep my composure outwardly, I have to admit I did start to get a bit giddy when I spotted those floppy haired crooners making their way towards me.

The rest is a bit of a blur of famous faces; Simon Cowell – who is tiny by the way – Ronnie Wood, McFly, Little Mix, Diana Vickers, Conor Maynards and more all passed by.  Some serious name dropping there.  Although the boys seemed to stick to more TV interviews, I did manage to get a quick interview with Harry Styles which was definitely the highlight of well…ever?  The eligible bachelor is quite charismatic in real life and keeps some serious eye contact when talking.  You can check out what he said to me here.  

After watching the premiere and being fully immersed in Directioner mania, the ride home on the Tube was a major anti-climax and I did consider standing up and announcing to the whole carriage that, ‘I, Josie Ayre, had just interviewed Harry Styles’ but thankfully I managed to refrain and stick to reading the Metro instead.

My first premiere experience definitely threw me in at the deep end but I absolutely loved it and I’m extremely grateful that the ladies at LOOK trusted me to go!

If you’re a fan of the boys, then definitely make sure to watch the film which is out on the 29th!

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After three quick years at the University of Reading, I graduated on the 4th of July with a 2.1 in English Literature and History.  As well as being a bit of a tear jerker (sentimental moments get me teary) it was also, admittedly, a day of fine dining with a bit of booze thrown in there for good measure.

I had chosen to wear a French Connection dress to the ceremony (which is now in the sale!) accessorised with a Michael Kors watch, some Swarovski rings which my housemates gave me on my 21st birthday, my Chanel bag and my lovely Louboutins, whose stiletto heels were perhaps not the best thing in the grass but nevertheless got me a few compliments!

Looking back on the day now, it’s a blur of photographs, sweaty palms and the feeling of relief after having not tripped up infront of the huge hall full of people – something I maintain is my greatest achievement to date, nevermind the degree – but one thing I can clearly remember is the food.

As a foodie at heart, I had put more thought into where my family and I should dine on the evening of my graduation than even revising for some of my exams but ultimately I left the decision up to my dad, the senior foodie of the family.  After consulting some in-the-know friends he booked The Forbury’s restaurant in Reading – not to be confused with The Forbury Hotel’s restaurant Cerise.  

After generously filling our wine glasses, we all got down to the serious business of ordering our food.  I’m one of those sad people who will obsessively check a menu online before venturing inside any restaurant, but on this occasion I’d been too busy in Newcastle sans internet to plan my meal – a travesty.  

After asking everyone round the table what they were planning to have at least twice, I opted for the Hand Dived Scallops served with a Pea Puree and Black Pudding for my starter and the Fillet of Angus Beef (medium rare of course) with Duck Fat chips, Onion Rings and Cherry Tomatos.  I can vouch that both were absolutely delicious, with the scallops being the best I’ve ever had (a huge claim for a scallop addict) and the steak being cooked to perfection.

By dessert time, my poor dress was probably feeling the strain, but Ross and I decided that we could both stretch to dessert and shared our first ever Bourbon Creme Brulee with a ShortCake Biscuit.  I’m more of a starter and main fan, mostly because I always fall foul of the ‘eyes too big for my stomach’ curse and don’t survive to the third round but I’d always coveted the crack of a Creme Brulee so loosened my hypothetical belt and tucked in.  I am now 100% a dessert convert and will be making room for some more sweet treats in the future whilst also renewing my gym membership ASAP.

This coming September I’ll be heading up North to study a Masters at the University of Newcastle so expect a Graduation 2.0 post in a year’s time!

If you’re graduating this summer, first of all GOOD LUCK (try not to trip!) and second, enjoy every second!

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A couple of weeks ago on a fine summers evening, three friends and I headed to Newbury Racecourse for an evening soiree at the races.

We were there to watch a little filly called Nyanza run her first ever race under my dad’s instruction.  Him and a few pals had an interest in the gorgeous little mare and since he wasn’t on the mainland at the time, I was his dutiful replacement.  

As we’re all ladies now we decided to doll ourselves up to the nines, so my new love, a Topshop skirt so ladylike that Kate Middleton has surely placed it in her online basket, made its debut with a light cami overtop and an old Zara leather jacket to keep me warm.

The skirt isn’t in stock in white anymore, however I found mine hiding on the ‘Last Chance to Buy’ rail but if you can’t find one there, don’t despair, Topshop have outdone themselves and released it in a variety of colours and patterns and I’m currently coveting this look alike.

Once we arrived we made our way to the pre-parade ring to inspect the stiff competition and introduce ourselves to Nyanza and a few of my dad’s kind friends who proved to be some extremely helpful betting advisors.  Usually I stand by the ancient technique of picking winners by either the horses name or the colour of the jockey’s silks without looking at any of the statistics.  In the past, this tried and tested technique had proved almost foolproof but with the help of Andy, Richard and a quick maths lesson, us four girls were able to finally understand odds and came home with a healthy £18 each!  Soon we’ll be raking in the millions!

After putting on a customary bet on Nyanza (a bank breaking £2), we made our way to the stands to watch her debut.  After struggling with the gates she placed a valiant and promising 9th out of 16 making us all extremely proud parents and thirsty for a tipple or two to celebrate.  

Cue the champagne.

 

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The weather has finally improved and the summer is officially here, Pimms anyone?

I spent last week in Guernsey with the family and my two dogs; taking walks on the beach, seeing friends, getting a little bit burnt and eating out too many times to count – my Ibiza body took a backseat.  

As is tradition, a trip home meant going to one of my favourite restaurants on the island for some dinner and since the weather was near perfection, my family and I headed to the Auberge which is perched on Guernsey’s stunning east coast cliffs.

Grey Crop Top – Topshop / Skirt – Topshop / Necklace – Topshop / Boots – Topshop / Watch – Michael Kors / Bag – Chanel / Sunglasses – Ray Ban

First of all, I need to apologise for my grumpy face in the photos, I was obviously too hungry to smile, I’ll make sure to feed myself before I attempt some more photos!

The outfit I wore for the night was extremely Topshop heavy; a result of my recent personal shopping experience at the flagship store on London’s Oxford Street (which you can read about that here)!  My bank account is still a little sore, but no pain no gain! 

The skirt was one of my favourite purchases of the day and is a part of a co-ord set.  It has some strategically placed splits to show a bit of leg, however, I almost showed off a bit too much when an unexpected strong gust of wind came along, watch out for Marilyn Monroe moments!  And while I may be late to the party, I’m now officially a member of the prestigious Michael Kors watch club.  Every blogger and their dog seem to have one but I couldn’t resist after seeing this gold beauty!  I love a good chunky watch and always covet my dads army candy more than my mums (sorry mum) so this was the perfect compromise!

Now onto the food, the moment you’ve all probably been waiting for.  The view at the Auberge really is beautiful and the food is equally as amazing, making it the perfect venue for a summer’s day.  If you’re heading there soon I 100% recommend trying the delicious Aberdeen Angus Beef Fillet with some added tiger prawns and hand dived local scallops for the full Surf and Turf experience, while the Sticky Toffee Puddin is also something to drool over.

Check out what I ate below:

Hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful weather!

JKA x

P.s. I’ve recently become obsessed with Tumblr, if you’d like to have a look at my page just click here!