Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Restaurant review | Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden

Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, London, City, Fine Dining, City Views, Fdbloggers
Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, London, City, Fine Dining, City Views, Fdbloggers
The Darwin Brasserie has been on my restaurant wishlist for absolutely ages. Luckily, my best friend Laura booked a table for us as part of my 26th birthday celebrations. The Sky Garden at Fenchurch Street is so unique: combining the feel of an open-air park indoors with a couple of restaurants, a bar and a viewing platform. Whatever your reason to visit, you can be guaranteed stunning views of London and it’s so much better at night. Due to the weather, we couldn’t go out on the platform, but I imagine it would be amazing in summer – if a little busy.

Just as a side note, there are queues to get in and you will have to declare your handbag and go through a metal detector – but once you’re in the lift shooting to the 35th floor, it’s all worth it! We could have enjoyed a drink at the Sky Pod bar, but instead made our way up the steps and through the indoor jungle to the restaurant.
Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, London, City, Fine Dining, City Views, Fdbloggers
We had an excellent table near the front of the restaurant, with views across London and all that was going on underneath us. Our waitress explained the specials for the evening – including their cocktail on offer – while passing us the menus. I began with their signature cocktail, while Laura selected the wine for the evening. We both decided we would skip starters and go straight into the main course... who would choose a starter over dessert anyway?
Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, London, City, Fine Dining, City Views, Fdbloggers
Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, London, City, Fine Dining, City Views, Fdbloggers
Despite both opting for the steak – an 8oz rib eye, served with wild mushrooms and red wine jus – we sipped a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Side dishes come separately and we went all out, ordering two portions of triple-cooked chips, the steamed spinach and broccoli with almonds (random, but it worked). I had my steak rare and it was perfect! As everyone knows, I love my steak blue, but I rarely choose rib eye, so wasn’t sure how much extra cooking would need. The chips were incredible: so fluffy on the outside but crisp and well-seasoned on the outside. They were proper hand-cut as well and tasted like potato! Who’d have thought chips would?! Spinach is my new favourite side to accompany a steak and this was much better than any creamed spinach I’d ever had, largely because it wasn’t so heavy, but still filling. I didn’t try any of Laura’s broccoli, but she enjoyed that too. The portion sizes are generous, so sharing sides comes recommended.
Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, London, City, Fine Dining, City Views, Fdbloggers
Darwin Brasserie, Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street, London, City, Fine Dining, City Views, Fdbloggers
For dessert, there was only one option for me and that was the chestnut cake. It was almost like a mini muffin: well presented and so cute. It came with ice cream and cinder toffee and I polished it off in no time at all. While I was stuffing my face, our waitress came over with my birthday slate – a chocolate brownie square complete with candle and that fancy icing writing. Because I’d ordered dessert, I think she thought it was Laura’s birthday and apparently looked confused when she starting singing to me. By that point, I could barely move, so had the tiniest corner of the brownie which was very rich and dense. Laura ate most of it, which was good as it’s her favourite dessert.

The restaurant was predominantly full of couples and it’s the perfect location for a date night – but also good for groups of friends of families celebrating an occasion. I would love to go back, even for drinks – and maybe next time, I’ll get to eat at the Fenchurch Restaurant.

Love, Lucy xx

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Theatre | A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, Theatre, Noel Coward, London, Covent Garden
A Christmas Carol, Theatre, Noel Coward, London, Covent Garden
A Christmas Carol, Theatre, Noel Coward, London, Covent Garden
Every year, we have a festive family outing to London to go and see a play. In 2014, it was The Play That Goes Wrong; last December it was A Christmas Carol, at the Noel Coward. In December 2012, we saw The 39 Steps which was very good – and this was another Patrick Barlow adaptation. I was really looking forward to the play because A Christmas Carol  is such a classic and I’d read the book numerous times before; it was going to be interesting to see what kind of spin Barlow would put on it.

After enjoying an aperitif of prosecco, we took our seats in the stalls, where I unashamedly necked it. We had a really good view and although we were to the right of the stage, we were about 16 rows up, so weren’t too low down. The set was cleverly designed and was revolving, which made each scene performed, perfect. From the typically Victorian London streets, to Scrooge’s four-poster bed and room, the novel was really brought to life.

One thing that was incredible was that there were only five actors and two puppeteers. Considering the number of roles to be filled, the cast were amazing. Jim Broadbent made an excellent Ebenezer Scrooge; I recognised Samantha Spiro (Mrs Lack/Lavinia Bentham/Maid/Ghost of Christmas Present) from Grandma’s House and her performance was reminiscent of Barbara Windsor; while Four Lions’ Adeel Akhtar made a very good Bob Cratchit, too. The puppeteers were brilliant, controlling the movements of the Cratchit children and I thoroughly enjoyed the scene before the Ghost of Christmas Present arrived with the lights and movement in the dark.

By using satirical elements during the performance, not only did this make it a little different, but it also related to the hardships facing modern day society, while appealing to a wider audience. This only strengthened the plot, in my opinion. The flying scenes with the puppeteers were also humorous and added a bit of energy. Despite this, I would say that the performance could be watched by children – I don’t personally think it was scary.

Although the play was split into two parts with a 15 minute interval, I wondered if it would have been better suited to three parts – one for each ghost. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the performance at all, it was just an after sight.

A Christmas Carol  is running until January 30th with tickets ranging from £23 to £114. Whilst it’s such a traditional Christmas story, I thoroughly recommend going to see it – not least for the performance of Broadbent and the illuminated scenes. Yes, it’s not what you’d expect, but it isn’t a radicalisation of the timeless classic!

Love, Lucy xx

Monday, 18 January 2016

Health | 5 tips to a healthy new you!

Health, Lifestyle, Change, New Year, New You
Source: Google

So we’re over halfway through the month – how many of you have already broken or given up your resolutions/goals/targets? You can read mine here and I’m pleased to say so far so good. However, every year I promise myself I’ll get fitter and never seem to get anywhere. The thing is, it’s not a short-term thing, it’s all about making the right lifestyle choices. I should know, I’ve done nearly every diet going! Here are my 5 tips to a healthy – and happy – new you:

(1) Get organised
I have this one in the bag, I’m the sort of person that makes lists for list’s sake. I spend my weekend deciding what I’ll be eating, buy the ingredients and then get prepping (where I can). Things like soup which can last a week and can also be frozen are good, or even homemade granola for breakfast kept in individual air-tight containers. If you can’t be that prepared, make your smoothies and salads the night before. I jot everything down in my diary, to put into My Fitness Pal. It’s a second diary to the one I keep in my handbag to organise my social calendar! If you’re organised, there’s less chance you’ll reach for the junk.

(2) Drink more water
This may be the worst thing when it’s so cold – and it’s true we drink a lot more water in the summer when there’s more chance of dehydration. But we all know the importance of water, right? At work, I only drink water and green tea and can easily drink one-and-a-half litres between the hours of 9am and 5pm. When I get home, it’s another pint with dinner and that’s two litres done. If you’re really anti-water, mix it up with slices of lemon/cucumber/watermelon/strawberries, or try a sugar-free alternative to squash, like Stur.

(3) Exercise
Now I’m the worst person ever to force this one on anyone. My office job means I’m sat at my desk all day, getting up to go to the printer, or walking the three flights of stairs to the lunch room. However, I’ve finally realised the reason the weight isn’t shifting isn’t down to what I’m eating, it’s down to exercise. Last Saturday I went for a run with my brother and I felt SO good. It’s something I’m going to continue regularly. I’m also going to dust-off my workout DVD and start Blogilates again. There are so many options these days if you don’t like the gym, or would rather attend a class. If there was a bikram yoga place near me, I’d do that! After all, if you look good, you’ll feel good!

(4) Correct your sleep pattern
All those late Christmas and New Year celebratory nights and cosy film marathons not only catch up on you, but could mean your sleep pattern is still affected – I know mine is. My resolution this year was to make more time for me, to wind down in the evenings, treat myself and shut down at night. I will go to bed around 10, but then not get to sleep until at least 11:30pm – not ideal when I’m up at half 6. I’m going to try my hardest to stick to this and instead of checking Twitter for the 1000th time, will read in bed, or have a hot milk while thinking about how my day went and what I need to do tomorrow – without over-thinking, as that’s also a killer! There are loads of apps that monitor your sleep and I really need to download one of those ones that play relaxing music.

(5) Stay positive
So you may have had that extra chunk of chocolate, or went out for lunch instead of having that pre-made wrap, but don’t get down heartened – and don’t give up. We all have off days; the main thing is to stay focus, organised and have a plan of action for the coming days/week. Or what about if you’ve had a bad day at work or at home? Take five minutes out and think about what you’re thankful for. It’s true what they say – there’s always someone in a worst position than yourself. The main thing is to stay upbeat, as with that outlook, you can conquer anything!

What are your tips for a healthy new you?

Love, Lucy xx

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Chill – no more bad hair days

Haircare, Beauty, Chill, Ed Repair, Damaged hair, BBloggers,
Haircare, Beauty, Chill, Ed Repair, Damaged hair, BBloggers,
When it comes to my hair, I’m the worst person alive and I’m sure my hairdresser agrees. I’ve had it same style since forever, occasionally I may get a side fringe cut in, but I don’t have the patience to maintain it. I love my GHDs, but my hair doesn’t love them – despite how much heat defence spray or split end oil I use. I used to colour my hair twice a year, that’s become a bit more frequent now I use semi-permanent box dye. Plus, it’s been forever since I’ve had my hair cut, because I don’t trust anyone but my hairdresser and she’s on mat leave. Feel my pain.

Luckily, I’ve come across a new range of products perfect for damaged hair – Chill Ed Repair*. The range consists of a shampoo, conditioner and treatment, all designed to reconstruct. I use the shampoo and conditioner regularly, alternating with my usual Herbal Essences products – but treat my tresses to the treatment once a week, where I’ve already noticed a massive difference.

First of all, I love the packaging: bold, colourful and to the point. There’s no mixed messages or loads of unnecessary text, it would certainly stand out amongst other products. The only downside, I feel, is the feel of the bottles – it’s not a sturdy plastic and feels as though it’d split, should you drop the bottles in the shower. All three products look the same and when you look at the Chill branding, it’s something that runs across the entire range. These particular products are yellow; the ones specifically for brunette hair are brown, red for red heads and purple for blondes. All have the cute stars and a clear indication of what the product is. My three bottles look so cute lined up in the bathroom.

The scent, well it’s beautiful. It really reminds me of something, but I can’t put my finger on it. Let’s just say it’s more luxurious than the packaging may suggest. If I was to compare it to other products on the market, I’d say TREsemme or Aussie Hair. The best thing is, a little goes a long way!

Beginning with the shampoo, I was impressed with how easy it was to create a thick lather. This makes a perfect base when wanting to wash out hairspray, as it would easily remove it. I felt like my hair was really clean with only one rinse. As per the back of the bottle, I combed through the conditioner and left it for two minutes. Once washed out, my hair already felt softer, knot-free and the ends less brittle. That’s before using the treatment! After rough drying my hair, I added the treatment to the mids and ends, applying liberally. Chill recommend leaving it in for five minutes, so I twisted my hair in a bun to soak up the moisture and read a chapter of my book! You could also wrap it in a towel, shower cap or similar.

Once rinsed, dried and styled, I couldn’t believe how good my hair looked – so much healthier to the eye and the touch, the ends weren’t noticeably split and even looked shinier! Usually once blow-dried, it feels almost straw-like, but this really wasn’t the case and I even got compliments the next day!

You can buy Chill direct: shampoo (£9.99 for 250ml), conditioner (£9.99 for 200ml) and the treatment (£10.99 for 150ml). I would definitely purchase this range again, particularly the hair mask.

Have you heard of Chill before?

Love, Lucy xx

*These products were included in a goodie bag, but while I didnt pay for it, opinions are my own