Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Trauma of a Being a Bag Hoarder (and the true meaning of a ‘bag for life’)

Sunday morning I decided to be PRODUCTIVE. I was going to sit down and hem a skirt which, when I bought, was totally convinced that my five foot two frame would totally fill out an item marked as ‘tall’. Needless to say, once reality had resumed, I realised a good few inches had to come off the skirt and to do that, I needed my sewing machines. Which meant I had to venture into The Cupboard.

The Cupboard is present in almost every house up and down the country. It’s where you store Stuff. (Stuff being everything that you can’t quite find a home for anywhere else). My Cupboard has everything in it from brooms, clothes and towels, to paint scrapers and screwdrivers. And the bag bag – the one bag which contains every other bag you’ve ever had, ever. Which you’ve promised yourself you’ll reuse, especially now the 5p bag charge has come in.

Now, I love the Earth. I’m quite a big fan of being about to breath clean air and of the simple things like trees and flowers. However, one thing I am hopeless at is reusing my bags. I try, I honestly do. But more often than not, I get to the checkout till and make that quick snap judgement, ‘Is two pints of milk, three cans of soup and a bag of spinach too much to carry in my arms? Or shall I just…?’ before guiltily leaving with my shiny new, planet guzzling plastic bag in hand. Which, inevitably, ends up in The Cupboard.

Anyway, this particular Sunday morning, I opened The Cupboard to get my sewing machine when an avalanche of bags suddenly rained down on me, puddling at my feet (and half way to my knees). Tesco bags mingled in with the much nicer Sainsbury’s one (seriously Tesco, how are we supposed to reuse that?! Up your game please!), lovely paper bags in with the even fancier canvas. Hundreds of bags which, until this moment, had been waiting in the dark for their moment to pounce!  Realisation struck. It was time to tackle this monstrosity.

The next hour was spent sorting – nice bags into one bag, practical bags (like the classic giant IKEA one!) into another and those long past their best into the bin. Most importantly however, one sturdy practical bag made it into my handbag where I vowed never ever ever to be without it again…

So what is the moral of this story? Well, I’m pretty sure whoever came up with a ‘bag for life’ didn’t mean for us to hide them away in our cupboards until the end of time. Be better than me and try your best to reuse and recycle, not just hoard!

P.s – I eventually did also manage to hem the skirt – look at all that productivity!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Skiing in La Tania

As the weather turns from the chilly bite of winter into the much more affable breeze of spring, I find myself thinking back to the snowy slopes of the French Alps, Or, more specifically, my most recent ski trip to La Tania.

La Tania is a tiny little ski resort set in the Courchevel area area of the Three Valleys.  Reached by crawling your way up the steep mountainside (or by skiing down winding, forest-y slopes), it had some rather good skiing to offer over the expansive Three Valleys ski area.

We were very lucky. Despite going quite late in the season, it absolutely tipped it down with snow before we arrived. This could only mean one thing - powder!

On our first morning, we pulled on our ski boots, clipped on our skis and headed straight out onto the slopes into glorious sunshine!

Our days followed the same pattern - up early to catch that day's freshest snow, demolish a large lunch and ski again until we dropped. Then, back to the chalet to collapse in front of the fire before heaving ourselves to table for a hearty three course meal.

On our second day, we found an amazing little place for lunch which served perhaps the most amazing hot chocolate I have ever had the pleasure to drink.

Look at that pile of cream!

We may have possibly gone back to the same restaurant most days after that....

On the chalet staff's day off, we headed into the little town in search of our own dinner. There, we ordered my favourite dish - a pierrade.

This is where a hot stone is placed on your table, along with a platter of raw meat and sides. Then, you cook your meat yourself at the table.

Not only is this really entertaining, but also tastes amazing!

After dinner, we braved the dark steep climb straight up the ski slopes to get back to our chalet - quite an impressive feat!

I had a lovely time in La Tania, but like all good things, all too soon it was time to go home. As we wound our way back down the mountains, I dreamed of sweetie frosted hot chocolates - surely it couldn't be too long before I returned!?

Sunday, 14 February 2016

January (and Feb) Adventures

The start to the new year has been rather exciting to say the least and rather a lot has happened. Below are some of the highlights:

My birthday is in January and this means that the family has to spoil me! So, with this in mind, I ended up being taken to lunch at the Charlotte Street Hotel and dinner at Chai Ki.

The Charlotte Street Hotel has an amazing set menu which is not only very reasonable, but also is far too difficult to choose from just because everything sounds just so yummy.

Look at how good it all looks!

The Hotel's restaurant is also such a lovely environment - light and bright with colourful walls and, most importantly, delicious cocktails.

Chai Ki in Canary Wharf  has a very different vibe to the Charlotte Street Hotel. It serves modern Indian food which I love and so I was quite excited to try new dishes outside of the usual dishes I'd order.

We tried a pear and tandoori chicken salad, grilled aubergine steaks and a number of different curries. Safe to say, the plates were essentially licked clean!

I was also rather spoilt by the boyfriend too!

Once all of the birthday celebrations were out of the way, it was back to normal life.

One day, my Mum came to visit me and so we headed to Sticks'n''Sushi in Wimbledon for a light (but tasty) lunch.

Sticks'n'Sushi is a successful restaurant group which started in Denmark and is well known for having some of the best Japanese food around! Therefore, I was somewhat excited to try what they had on offer.

We were not disappointed! We shared some beef tataki and dug into two large salads.

Not only was everything delicious, all the food just looks beautiful!

Finally, some good friends took us to try out the roof bar at Selfridges - Forest on the Roof.

After speeding up in the express lift, you step out into a tunnel of fairy lights and tangled branches before walking into a magical grotto of a bar.

Happily for us, the cocktails were equally magical!

All in all, it's been a lovely start to the year - bring on the rest of it!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Shaka Zulu, London’s largest South African restaurant, knows how to make an impact. The entrance is guarded by an enormous Zulu warrior whose shadow you walk under before being whisked away by an escalator, down into the depths of the restaurant.

Once you reach the bottom, you realise just how large Shaka Zulu is. The restaurant stretches out in front of you and the whole place is immaculately themed – there are big cat sculptures and elephant heads hanging on the wall, all watched over by more huge Zulu warriors.

I was invited to Shaka Zulu to try out their rather exotic food and was intrigued to see whether it was as impressive as the venue. I soon found out I wouldn't be disappointed! 
As my boyfriend and I settled into our seats, we were given a welcome glass of fizz with some sort of pink candy-floss-like substance settled at the bottom which made me smile. We sipped on our drinks, excitedly awaiting our food! 

Starters arrived and the boyfriend and I eagerly dived in to the large sharing board which was presented. On it were lamb samosas, salmon and ostrich terrine, accompanied by a salad and garlic-y bread. The lamb samosas were delicious, but I was particularly taken with the ostrich - it was the first time I had ever tried it!

Next was mains.  I had (blindly and bravely at the time!) picked the ostrich steak and the boyfriend had gone for a steak (as in a normal-from-a-cow-beef-steak). We had also ordered a number of sides to share which included roast cinnamon butternut squash and sugar snaps with caramelised onions. 

The food may not be the most photogenic in the world, but my meat was cooked perfectly - pink all the way through and it just tasted delicious. Ostrich turned out to be quite gamey, but not as strong as venison or boar. I would definitely recommend trying it! The boyfriend was also very pleased with his steak, happily piling peri-peri fries and sugar snaps on top of it. 
Then came the puddings. Look how pretty they were! 

I was practically ready to pop after the mains, but managed a spoonful (or two!) of the yummy desserts! There was a little cheese cake, a chocolatey tart and a  creamy traditional South African tart. 
Once I had slightly recovered from munching through our rather large amount of food, I went for a little explore around the restaurant....

.....making a new friend or two along the way!

I really enjoyed visiting Shaka Zulu. The venue is just spectacular (we couldn't stop commenting on it all evening!) and the food was very tasty and definitely interesting! When I return, I am going to have to try the crocodile and the zebra! I would really recommend giving it a try, especially if you have a hungry boy in tow - I challenge them to manage to eat everything put in front of them! 
Thank you for having us Shaka Zulu- we will be seeing you soon! 


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bunga Bunga in Battersea

A couple of weekends ago, the boyfriend and I were invited to a Blogger's Brunch at Bunga Bunga in Battersea.

All I knew about Bunga Bunga was that it had a reputation for holding all day parties and I should bring my dancing shoes...

We rocked up outside a sleepy looking building at 11:30 in the morning, not quite knowing what to expect. We went inside and were lead to a big corner table next to the bar where jugs of juices and prosecco were already laid out waiting for us.  Then, as the others started to arrive, the food started to appear.

To start, there were platters of cured meats and juicy melon balls. These were followed by larger platters piled high with  mini pastries and fresh warm bread, with pots of jam and Nutella on the side. We tucked in happily while using the jugs of prosecco and juices to mix our own bellinis.

It was lovely being surrounded by other bloggers and, as my boyfriend pointed out, hilarious to be around other people who were all happy to sit there for a while photographing our food before eating it. Well, I thought it was hilarious. Andrew just wanted to eat and thought we were all taking far too long!

Anyway, after most of the pastries had vanished (quite an achievement given just how many of them there were...!), out came the main event. HUGE pizzas, Bunga Bunga style.

It turned out each one was divided into four flavours - 'An Englishman's Breakfast' (sausage and egg), 'Italy's Fun-Guy' (mushrooms and truffle oil), 'The Bunga Royal' (my favourite, with hollandaise, smoked salmon, egg and spinach!) and of course, Margherita.

I was in pizza heaven! Seriously, Bunga Bunga had caught on to something - people need to put more breakfast food on pizza!

By the time we had managed to eat the last crumbs, I had lapsed into a mini food coma. However, pudding arrived and so I had to just force myself to try one of the mini ice cream cones!

Suddenly I noticed the music was getting louder - it was time to party! A rather talented singer took to the bar (she spent most of her time dancing up and down it, dodging cocktail glasses!) and we all hit the floor for a boogie. Well, that was until I spotted the face painter in the corner...

All too soon, it was time for us to leave. Apparently, the karaoke was due to start and I wish I could have stayed all evening but unfortunately it wasn't to be. My whole experience at Bunga Bunga had been fantastic and unbelievably lively for a Saturday afternoon. I had an absolute whale of a time and I honestly cannot wait to return.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

340 The Kings Road: Fairfax and Favor at London Après

On Thursday evening, a new pop up threw open its doors at 340 The Kings Road. London Après, a collaboration of several British brands, had arrived on the iconic street and my sister and I were invited to the opening celebration.
One of the brands behind the collaborative pop up is Fairfax and Favor, a small yet upcoming British company that specialises in making ‘affordable luxury footwear’ that bridges the gap between the country and the city, or, more importantly, beautiful boots that I have been just dying to get my hands on!

After being swept off my feet and into a pair of boots by a rather jovial man with a spotted pocket handkerchief, my sister and I  managed to pin down Marcus, the Fairfax half of the boot making duo. Then, in true Lucinda style, my sister began to interrogate Marcus for just about every detail of his journey into boot making. (I took the very important role of drinking my pink gin cocktail and listening...)

It turned out it all started when Marcus and his business partner were interning for another shoe company. After several months, the pair decided to go it solo (despite being told they would never manage it!) and try to forge their own path into the shoe business. They pooled their savings, crossed their fingers and flew out to Spain to track down a factory which was to become the future producer of Fairfax and Favor’s beautiful signature boots.
The pair went from selling boots out of the back of their cars  and popup tents to visiting prestigious country shows up and down the UK, selling hundreds of pairs of shoes, all within a matter of a couple of years. Quite an impressive feat given they were new to running their own business. Now, with bricks and mortar over their heads, I think we can say they have safely established themselves as a brand here to stay!

Talking to Marcus was quite an inspirational experience. He and his partner hadn't necessarily tried to come up with 'the next new thing'. Instead, they had entered a market with a good product and let it do the talking. They had believed in themselves, took the risk of starting a company at the young ages of 24, worked hard and come out the other side with a successful business. It goes to show that with a bit of drive and a clear vision of what you want to achieve, you can create something truly rather impressive which is a valuable lesson I feel we can all apply to our own lives. 

All too soon we had to leave the warm shop and step back out into the icy night. The Christmas lights were twinkling away and once again I was reminded just how lovely London is. Thankfully, like Fairfax and Favor, I'm here to stay. 

The popup is open everyday until December 13th so if you want to pop by for  a peek at the boots, a sneaky cocktail or to interrogate Marcus yourself, I would honestly recommend it.