30 December 2016

a look into 2017 | lifestyle

In 2017 I want to sort my skin out. I've become an avid reader of /r/skincare and it's opened my eyes to a few things. I've already started to make a better effort of removing my make up properly each night and I have some good skincare products - but I'd really like to move away from only having "some" to finding products that really work for me. I'd also like to remember to moisturise each night, no excuses!

In 2017 I want to travel more. I've mentioned before I've seen quite a bit of Europe, but apart from two very short trips into Africa, I haven't really been anywhere else. I'm grateful for the experiences I've had in Europe and it's a great place to explore, but I would love to be able to get my first long haul flight and see some other continents. 

In 2017 I want to start budgeting. At the moment I play the game where I check my bank account on the day I'm paid and then don't check it at any other point throughout the month out of fear. I want to set a budget for each week and vaguely stick to it, and try to save too (easier said than done in London!)

In 2017 I want to bake more. I'm baking quite a lot at the moment, but I need to stop getting ahead of myself and focus on a few skills. My Stepmum cracked the most perfect Victoria Sponge I've ever tasted by literally baking one a week for months - I'd like to try the same thing with my icing skills. If I could be even half as good as a Biscuiteer I'd be happy with that. I'd also like to crack macarons (you can see my failures here) but I know that may yet be a long way off. 

In 2017 I want to find a new job. I mentioned here that I was already looking, but my search had slowed down in the run up to Christmas because there were barely any jobs being advertised. I know it's time for me to move on in my role but 2017 has to be the year I make it happen. It's time for a new challenge! 

In 2017 I want to be better at networking. I get so scared about attending work events and I needn't - they're never as bad as I think they're going to be. This is also combined with me wanting to be able to make small talk easier with people I come across at work. I'm not sure how I'm going to manage this as my panic sometimes get to

In 2017 I want to make some new friends. Ever since I moved to London I've felt on the lonely side and even though I know social media isn't real (blah, blah, blah) it still kills me when I search through it and see people out with big groups of people, knowing that I don't really have that. Sure, I have friends, but I don't often see them and I'd like to meet some new people and feel part of something. 

In 2017 I want to make time for friends. This is probably related to the one above, but I have friends who seem to be really good at always making time to see people and constantly booking in time to see friends and replying to messages quickly. I am so bad at that and need to get better!

In 2017 I want to sleep more. Or less or better. At the moment I seem to sleep very little throughout the weekdays and then sleep loads through the weekends. I'd much prefer to feel a little less tired throughout the week and a little more alive at the weekend. 

In 2017 I want to start learning Dutch again. I don't know how I want to start learning again, but I don't think it would kill me to stop playing SongPop on my phone and move on to my Duolingo app instead. I'm also going to look into classes, but I don't think I'll hold myself to those because they're slightly prohibited by cost and time! 

In 2017 I want to learn to drive. I have zero need to learn to drive living in London and I've always questioned people who live in zone 1-2 and have one. But I swear every time I see my family they ask me when I'm going to start learning so I might as well get on with it and just do it. 

In 2017 I want to up my photography game. Especially on my blog. At the moment I just take things on a white background, but I wouldn't mind putting a little more effort into proceedings and putting together a proper background. I'd also like to learn a little more about composition and editing.

In 2017 I want to sort out my routine. At the moment, I wake up and it takes me absolutely ages to get ready for work and I'm never really sure why. I know I need to cut down on my make up routine or get more efficient at applying make up, and I need to come up with some easy and quick hairstyles so that I can get out of the door quicker. I'm really not sure how to make this happen, but it would be better if I was able to fit in breakfast before I left each morning.

If anyone worked on anything similar and has any tips - do let me know! What are your resolutions?


28 December 2016

chocolate swirl marshmallow | recipe

I've wanted to make marshmallow for a long time, but I've always been quite put off by all the equipment that would be necessary. I'm not a precision baker, I've always been known to mess myself around by adding bits in and taking bits away and so using a recipe that needs certain temperatures and at its heart is so bloody hot it's practically molten didn't seem like a recipe for marshmallow success but literally a recipe for disaster.

But do you know how good marshmallow is when it's been home made? So much better. At least 1000% better. And so when I happened upon a recipe which didn't involve thermometers and checking temperatures and was actually super easy to make I had to share it. The best thing is, once you have the basics down, it's easy to mix and match sauces and create different toppings to, which means you can make it for a variety of occasions and holidays. Give it a go and see how easy it is.


  • 300g of caster sugar
  • 210ml cold water 
  • 11g gelatine
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 10g cornflour

  • 90g plain chocolate, grated
  • 25g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk


  • Start by making the chocolate sauce
  • Put the grated chocolate, butter and milk into a bowl
  • Melt in the microwave, ten seconds at a time - stirring each time it's out of the microwave until it's fully melted
  • Cool in the fridge
  • Mix the cornflour and icing sugar together
  • Take a 9x9 inch tin, and cover the bottom and sides with half of the cornflour & icing sugar mix
  • Put the sugar into a saucepan, add 140ml of cold water 
  • Stir through
  • Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat
  • Keep the mixture simmering for 8 minutes, stirring through occasionally
  • In a mixing bowl, add 70ml cold water to the gelatine
  • Leave for five minutes to activate (until it has gone clear)
  • Whisk the gelatine mix together for thirty seconds, or until it has gone bubbly
  • Once the sugar syrup has been simmering for 8 minutes, add it to the gelatine mix slowly
  • Whisk on a high speed for five minutes, until the mixture looks noticeably thicker
  • Then fold in the chocolate sauce, until it creates a marbled effect
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and pour the rest of the cornflour/icing sugar mix on top
  • Leave to set in the fridge for at least two hours (I left mine overnight)
  • Once set, ease the marshmallow out of the tin and cut into squares 


21 December 2016

peppermint creams | recipe

Peppermint creams were a bittersweet recipe for me to get my hands into, because they remind me of my Grandad so much. When I was growing up, my Grandad always had a pack of sweets on the side next to his armchair and they were always one of four things on rotation: mint creams, mint imperials, wine gums or fruit pastilles. He would always let me and my brother sit there and make our way through them. 

Secondly, a disclaimer: the absolutely crap photos I've taken of these peppermint creams do absolutely no justice to just how good these mints are. If you're after something to make in the run up to Christmas, which are ridiculously cheap and ridiculously easy then you won't find much easier than this. Also, can we just ignore the dodgy circles? I had to use a bottle cap to cut them out. I could have kicked myself, I own biscuit cutters in all shapes and sizes - from cats to tulips to handbags - but not a circular cutter in sight. 

You don't have to cut them out in circles at all of course - many people go with stars but I think circles are exactly how I remember peppermint creams to be. You can also add food colouring to make them different colours, or dip them in chocolate for an extra special touch. 


  • 1 egg white
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • Drop of lemon juice (I used lime juice and that's fine too!)

  • Put the egg white in a bowl
  • Whisk until the egg white starts to foam - this won't take long at all
  • Add the lemon juice and mix together 
  • Sift in the icing sugar
  • Add the peppermint extract 
  • Start to combine with a spoon
  • Eventually it will become too hard to combine with a spoon, so get stuck in with your hands
  • Dust a work surface with icing sugar
  • Roll out the mix onto the surface until it's about 2cm thick
  • Dust a separate chopping board or baking tray with icing sugar 
  • Cut the mix into circles and place onto the separate board/tray
  • Leave the circles to dry overnight 

Ta da!

19 December 2016

a little visit to eat food in torvehallerne market | copenhagen.

I think one of my better moves this year was to book a walking tour around Copenhagen which finished at Torvehallerne, Copenhagen's pretty fancy food market. My Dad is convinced I'd already been to the food market the last time I went to Copenhagen, but as that was ten years ago I couldn't remember going at all. Also, Torvehallerne has completely changed since then and looks pretty fancy now. For a start, it's now under cover which was pretty handy considering how cold it was when we were in Copenhagen in November and also, it's now set in two different buildings which follow a vague theme of having sweet in one building and savoury in another. Also, unlike Borough Market, it's all shiny and new and made of glass. I'm not saying one is better than the other - Borough Market has a certain kind of charm and Torvehallerne seems all bright and Scandi. 

I've mentioned before on this blog how I'm a bit of a sucker for a food market and I think it would have been wrong to miss this one even though our trip to Copenhagen wasn't very long. It's not the cheapest food market you'll ever come across, and you probably are paying off for the glass buildings and the "squeaky cleanness" of the buildings - but at the same time, Denmark isn't the cheapest country you'll ever visit either, so you just have to kind of pick up and accept it. 

There are over 60 stalls packed into Torvehallerne and one of the only downsides to the market is that when you're travelling on hand luggage only, you can't possibly buy everything you really want to and get it home! We spent a while wondering between the two buildings working out what we wanted to eat, and then back again. There was an incredible amount of choice. 

In the end, we did what all good tourists in Copenhagen do, and settled with joining the massive queues to have some smørrebrød, which we had been told to try over and over again before we went to Denmarket. Smørrebrød are basically open topped sandwiches, consisting of a dark rye bread with various toppings added on the top. Hallernes was the stall we picked ours from, and it was hard to miss being one of the only stalls which had an added queue system in place and a flood of tourists surrounding it. There were quite a few different sandwiches to choose from. I ended up going with chicken (I think?!) but I could have had pretty much any sandwich combination you can think of. They were pretty tasty, and even though it was insanely toursity, I've always thought that things are popular for a reason. 

Afterwards, we headed outside to have a look at all the flowers which were on offer. I started to wonder whether it would have been nice to have Borough Market and Columbia Road combined back in London, before I realised just how much of an utter bum fight that would be. Chaos. There were some pretty wintery displays already out for early November and I've never actually seen so much lavender in one place before (I missed out on the whole lavender farm thing) and it smelt bloody gorgeous. 

Afterwards, deciding we weren't happy with just sandwiches, we went back inside and found a stall which served egg wraps and honestly some of the best tomato soup I've ever had. I don't know whether it was just the best because I was freezing and it did a pretty good job of warming me up or what, but I think I might still think about that soup a little bit even now. I wish I could remember the name of the stall that did the egg wraps and soup because they were amazing, but I can't, although I do know that they served a whole range of Paleo food - so if that's your thing you wouldn't go too far wrong by heading there. 

Also deserving of a special mention is The Coffee Collective, which has one branch in Torvehallerne. The Coffee Collective work to a Direct Trade model, where their aim is to try and get Kenyan coffee growers the same status as a wine grower in France. It means that they pay their coffee producers 25% more than the fair trade price and visit them once a year. Who could argue with that? 

So give Torvehallerne a chance if you're ever in Copenhagen. It's easy to get to, right by Nørreport station and it really is pretty much the perfect place to grab lunch on a weekend break. 


16 December 2016

rice krispie christmas puddings | recipe

Time to get a little bit Christmassy over here! I'd say I've always felt a little bit of a fraud calling anything which involves chocolate Rice Krispies a recipe, but I'm not sure what else it would be called. And anyway, when I lived in Holland I remember making some small Rice Krispie cakes for my Dutch friends and not a single one of them had had one before. I thought they were something everyone did when their parents first started teaching them to bake, something easy to whip up with four-year-olds. But they'd genuinely never heard of them, and one of my Dutch friends even asked me how I'd made them, which pretty much blew my mind.

It seems a little wrong to write a recipe for these, but I'm going for it! These are great for Christmas - they went down well at work and I think they'd be great for a Christmassy gathering too - easy to make a massive batch loads and they keep well in the fridge for quite a while! 


400g milk chocolate (basically two big bars)
200g Rice Krispies
200g white chocolate
100g butter
5 tablespoons of fluff (or melt down 150g of marshmallows with a bit of water in a pan!)
Red fondant icing
Green fondant icing


Break the milk chocolate into small chunks
Add the chocolate and butter into a bowl
Using the microwave, melt down the chocolate ten seconds at a time
Give the mixture a good stir
Add in the fluff
Give a good stir until the mix is combined
Add the Rice Krispies
Make sure that all the Rice Krispies are coated in chocolate and there are no pale patches
Leave to cool for five minutes
Spoon a tablespoon of mixture into your hands and roll into a ball
If you have trouble with this, spray your hands with oil first
Whack in the fridge and leave to cool for ten minutes
In this time, make your holly decorations
Break off teeny bits of the red fondant and roll into balls
Cut out teeny squares of the green fondant
Using a straw, push the straw into the small square at each little sections
Break the white chocolate into small chunks
Using the microwave, melt down the chocolate ten seconds at a time
Pour bits of the white chocolate onto the puddings
While the chocolate is still wet, add the holly decorations

Ta da!

14 December 2016

a bloody good carrot cake | recipe

In terms of classic cakes to make, it doesn't hurt to get yourself on the other side of a carrot cake. For years I didn't eat them, convinced that because I thought carrots were the devil's work I wouldn't like carrot cake. Wrong. I take solace in knowing I wasn't the only one. Carrot cakes were originally popular during the second world war as a way of using up excess carrots, but the cake was in a slightly different format with rations. Then they fell out of fashion, and when carrot cakes reappeared from America with the addition of cream cheese frosting, it took a little while for everyone to get back on side. But it does seem that the addition of cake to most things never really hurts, and cream cheese frosting is usually a winner too. I now have some considerable making up to do.

One of the best things about a carrot cake is that they're so easy to make, and they pretty much always taste good. This is the recipe I've settled on, the cake turns out moist, plus it's simple and easy to make. Using light muscovado sugar keeps the flavour pretty light and using butter too instead of the usual oil means that it's pretty fluffy still. Also remember to always use full fat cream cheese. 



150g butter - melted
300g self-raising flour
225g light muscovado sugar
200g carrots - peeled and grated
75g walnuts - shelled and chopped
4 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
Walnuts to decorate, as you wish!


250g full-fat cream cheese
50g butter
25g icing sugar
Squeeze of lemon juice



Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Grease two deep 20cm sandwich tins
Line the cake tins with baking paper
Put the melted butter, eggs and sugar into a bowl
Whisk until the mixture is combined and slightly thicker
Fold in the carrot until evenly spread out
Stir in the flour
Then stir in the baking powder, ginger and chopped walnuts
Make sure the mixture is fully combined then spread into the cake tins
Bake for about 35 minutes
Leave to cool when finished


Make sure the butter and cream cheese is at room temperature
Add butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice into a bowl
Whisk with an electric bowl until blended
Once the cake is cool, spread the mixture on both cakes and sit one on top of the other
Decorate with remaining walnuts - if you're that way included

Eat and be happy!

12 December 2016

nyhavn christmas market | copenhagen

I have to admit here and now that Christmas markets aren't really my thing. To be fair, Christmas isn't really one of my favourite things either. Don't get me wrong, I look forward to it, but I can never work out if that's because I enjoy the break from work and seeing all my family, or because it's actually Christmas. Plus Birmingham Christmas Market always seemed to get so badly in my way when I was trying to do Christmas shopping there, when I still lived in the Midlands. I'm also one of those massive Scrooges that gets annoyed that Christmas seems to be getting earlier and earlier each year. 

Having moaned about that, it didn't stop me from visiting Nyhavn Christmas market during a trip to Copenhagen last month - quite possibly by chance more than determination. Nyhavn is one of the must visit places when you're in Copenhagen, so of course we were already planning to visit. It seems like the Danes were on to something when they decided to make this is a must visit tourist attraction (even if that was also by chance more than determination) because who can resist brightly coloured houses alongside a canal, with the added benefit of one of their more famous exports - Hans Christian Anderson - having lived there? Most locals during the ~hot~ summer months will head there and grab a beer and sit on the quayside - but we didn't have that luxury, as the temperature didn't exceed much more than three degrees for the entire time we were there. 

So the Christmas Market which was taking place actually came to our rescue and perhaps I will have to change my mind about them! Instead of beer we were able to warm ourselves up with a cup of Gløgg - which is basically a Nordic mulled wine - the only difference I could see between the British version and the Danish version being that it had raisins in it, but nothing warms you up like a cup of mulled wine right? And if you're going to do a Christmas market, there's nothing more scenic than doing it in Scandinavia - especially on Nyhavn. Even though it's just a street and even though it's incredibly "touristy", I do think touristy things are often popular for a reason and I loved it.

Anyone else been?


9 December 2016

rose & marshmallow tarts | recipe

london lifestyle blog rose and marshmallow tart recipe

One of the things I love to make the most are tarts, which I suppose is quite odd considering they're never my first choice of pudding (give me cake any day), but I really love how versatile a tart can be. There's so many different flavour combinations and colour coordination's that you can get out of one recipe and they never fail to look exceptionally pretty. When I give out tarts at work once I've made them too, they always seem to go down better than when I pass over a cake. I'm not sure why that is, but perhaps because they're slightly more presentable? 

london lifestyle blog rose and marshmallow tart recipe

Well, unfortunately, these tarts never managed to be that presentable. As I've become a bit of a bag lady recently and always seem to be carting my handbag, a backpack and another bag, fitting in cakes and sweet treats has become easier said than done. And on the morning I took these into work, the Tupperware fell out of my bag, and they went splat inside the box. When I got to work, you couldn't see inside the box for bright pink. 

Fair play to my colleagues, who still ate them in their messy states, and luckily they said they tasted very nice, even if we did have to scrape some of the filling out of the box with a spoon. So there we have it, my recipe for rose and marshmallow tarts! If you make them, try not to drop them!

london lifestyle blog rose and marshmallow tart recipe


For the pastry
350g  plain flour
pinch salt
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

For the crème pâtissière
500ml full fat milk
6 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
50g plain flour
2 tbsp rose flavouring 
2 tbsp marshmallow fluff
Pink food colouring 

For the topping
Rose petals
Edible glitter


Preheat the oven to 190C
Lightly grease and flour 12 x 8cm tart tins
Stir the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl
Add the butter from the fridge into the flour and rub in
Add the sugar
Mix together the eggs and egg yolk,
Add to the mixture
Gently mix until the dough comes together in a ball
Knead until you have a smooth soft dough.
Place the dough the fridge to chill for at least two hours
Remove the pastry from the fridge and lightly flour a work surface
Roll out the pastry and line the 12 tins, leaving an overhang of pastry.
Place some greaseproof paper over the top and fill with baking beans
Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes
Lift out the paper and beans and brush with beaten egg yolk
Place back in the oven for 8 minutes
Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes
Then trim the edges and cool

For the crème patissière, warm the milk through with the rose flavouring
Place the eggs, sugar and flour in a bowl and whisk until the colour becomes pale
Gradually add the warm milk to the egg mixture
Whisk together, then return the mixture to the pan
Cook on a low heat until it the mixture thickens, then pour into a clean bowl
Once cold, add drops of food colouring to your preffered colouring and fold in the marshmallow fluff gently
Cool in the fridge, adding rose petals and edible glitter to serve

7 December 2016

a little visit to maltby street market | london

london lifestyle blog maltby street

london lifestyle blog maltby street

london lifestyle blog maltby street

I've always thought it was a great shame that Borough Market isn't open on a Sunday. Personally, I think Sundays are better days to head off in search of hangover cure street food at a market. In search of doing exactly that, last Sunday I wandered on down to Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey, not far from Tower Bridge. It took me slightly longer than I thought it would do to get there - which is entirely my own fault - as unfortunately Maltby Street market isn't as close to the tube as Borough Market is. To be fair though, as there's some serious food on offer, a little walk won't have done me much harm! 

london lifestyle blog maltby street

london lifestyle blog maltby street

london lifestyle blog maltby street

Apart from both being markets and both serving a pretty impressive selection of food, that seems to be where the comparisons between Borough Market and Maltby Street Market end. Maltby Street Market opened in 2010, is much smaller and also happens to have quite a few less tourists and be less crowded than Borough Market, which is quite a plus point in its favour for those of us nursing sore heads. The market itself is hidden away in a railway viaduct, which also houses a reclamation yard, which can help to explain the unusual timber products, prison cell doors and signs that you'll find dotted around the market as you walk along. 

london lifestyle blog maltby street

london lifestyle blog maltby street

Unbelievably, I didn't actually eat much when I was here. I can't eat bread at the moment, which was almost painful because I don't think there's anything better than eating home baked bread, especially when it's of the sourdough variety. I could have bought nearly every single loaf photographed above, but sadly it wasn't to be. However, next time I go back I'll be all over the halloumi fries from Oli Baba's which were  Also highly recommended is Little Bird Gin

I'll definitely be back to Maltby Street, if you haven't checked it out I really recommend that you do so! It's pretty much foodie heaven hidden away, and perfect for those hungover Sunday walks 

5 December 2016

a little visit underground | clapham south.

hidden london clapham south bloghidden london clapham south blog

I have a slight confession to make, a sort of guilty pleasure if you will, and that is that I'm a massive transport geek. Now you won't find me on a train platform taking photos with a little notebook recording S-stock London Midland trains coming in and out of Birmingham New Street, but I doubt you'll be able to tell me a little fact about the tube network I haven't heard before. I know which stations were abandoned, I know about the various disasters and mysterious, which stations are supposedly haunted and which areas of London have dummy houses hiding the lines. I've read books about tube lines and am secretly jealous of people who've walked all the tube lines.

And then the news reported that they'd be opening up Clapham South station for tours and I knew I had to join in. Partly because of the whole transport geek thing and partly because I live in Clapham. I don't know where the line is below my house, but it must be pretty close because I can pick up the tube's wifi from my bedroom, and sometimes hear the tubes rumbling below me at night. It took me ages to get a ticket - it turns out there are quite a few people in London who want to go underground and we did have to wait quite a long time to get on our tour. 

hidden london clapham south blog

hidden london clapham south blog
Clapham South tube has one of the only purpose built air raid shelters which the public can still access. Before this, Londoners had been using tube stations on the platforms, until a bomb hit the Balham station killing 66 people and then Bank station killing 111 people. The government realised they had to do something and started building underground shelters - without telling anyone what they were doing. Mounds of earth appeared on Clapham Common, and because it was during the Second World War, no one questioned where all the earth had come from or why it had been dumped on the Common. 

We headed down hundreds of circled steps to the sound of the air raid sirens - a little cheesy but it did make me think about all of the people who'd had to run down those steps before me genuinely fearing for their lives and homes. When we finally reached the bottom, we were greeted by our guide and a mass of tunnels which seemed to stretch on forever. It was impossible to work out where you were in relation to the ground above - every time we tried to work out which direction Balham or Clapham Common was, we got it wrong. 

The shelters had room for 8,000 people, all of whom had a bunk. There were kitchens, a medical room, toilets and a game room. You had to bring your own stuff up and down with you each night - and believe me, after hauling my fat bum up the stairs at the end of the tour, I wouldn't have been wanting to do that holding clothes and a duvet. Having said that, the only time you got to keep your belongings down there during the day was if your house got bombed. So maybe I'd have picked the slightly exhausting option...

hidden london clapham south blog

hidden london clapham south blog

I learnt that the shelters were later used to house soldiers, as a cheap hostel during the Festival of Britain in 1951 and also as a stop for those who came to England on the Empire Windrush - and is partly why Brixton is so multi-cultural to this day, as the nearest job centre to the tube station was in Brixton. 

Similar tunnels in Clapham Common are being used for storage, tunnels in Clapham North are being used to grow vegetables and herbs in controlled conditions which I think is pretty awesome. Even though the tunnels aren't often open to the public these days, if you do get a chance to do and see them, take it! The guides were so enthusiastic and even though the tour wasn't cheap, I feel like I got value for every penny. I'm already looking into taking another trip down to other stations, like Down Street. If you're a bit of a tube geek like me, or into your London history, you'll find it hard to join a more interesting tour. 
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