Friday, 31 July 2015

Link Love #2

All new pictures of Pluto and the discovery of a planet that's almost identical to Earth? The news these past few weeks sure has been out of this world. *wink*. Ha, I know, terrible pun, but it really was too good of an opportunity to miss. On the small screen however, right now you shouldn't be missing out on:
  1. It's Nicole Kidman's turn to answer 73 questions (I am obsessed with these things!) {via}

  2. I hope I'm as badass as the Queen when I'm her age {via Mashable}

  3. Want to feel better about some of those guilty pleasure foods you eat? Find out some of the great health benefits found in coffee, popcorn and more {via MyDomaine}

  4. A wedding sponsored by Burger King? Well, it seems only appropriate for this couple... {via Food World News}

  5. Ten of the most bizarre 999 calls received in one day {via Mashable}

  6. The uplifting story of a foundation set up to place elderly dogs, who would otherwise be euthanised, into loving foster homes. Tears, everywhere. {via YouTube}

  7. The most surprising reaction to a guy who sent out résumés detailing his failures. Now that takes some balls. {via The Independent}

  8. Six questions to ask during your job interview - it's always good to have these up your sleeve! {via Chapter Friday}

  9. Tailored just for you; read about Spotify's new 'discover weekly' playlist. I love what's popped up on mine! {via Gizmodo}

  10. Did our obsession with kale just appear out of thin air? Nope, it was all a PR set up {via Self}
~ Eleanor xo

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Saturday Brunch at Bill's

Address: Bill's Restaurant, 1 Angel Gate, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4AE

I feel like writing this post now means I am officially a blogger. Visiting a Bill's is kind of like a rite of passage, or at least, that's kind of how it looks. So, am I officially in the club? Should I keep an eye out for the postman who's going to secretly deliver me a cool t-shirt and snapback to wear because that's how this thing works? Like Fight Club, nobody is allowed to talk about it, but you know it's true.

Surprisingly, it was my mum who suggested we try out our local Bill's restaurant for a Saturday morning breakfast extravaganza. This Bill's is a Martha Stewart-esque delight; it fills the entire first floor of an old coaching inn so the decor is a dream; with exposed brick walls, wooden floors, low lighting and steel framed windows (that had me recreating the heart-eye emoji) so it has a really wholesome atmosphere. It's somewhere I could definitely see myself spending endless autumnal hours. Even though the place was packed, the service was speedy so it wasn't long before I was sipping on a warm latte and tucking into a fresh plate of eggs royale. Everyone else at the table chose variations of the Bill's breakfast, which they seemed to enjoy, but there's something about eggs and salmon that just speaks to me on a spiritual level, so my mind was set.

I totally get the hype about this place; it's charismatic, it's friendly and the food is super tasty. We all left feeling suitably well-fed and headed off to the High Street to delve into the remnants of the sales racks. I'm already planning my next trip and I can't wait to try more of the menu. As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

~ Eleanor xo

Friday, 24 July 2015

A sisterly shopping day at Gunwharf Quays

Hands up all the party people out there who love a fabulous bargain and also a super fun day out! *frantically waves all hands in the air*. I'm not sure why that says 'all hands' when it should definitely say 'both hands'. I only have two hands, just to clear that up...

Outlet centres, I believe, are gifts sent from the Gods above. Zeus, the bearded babe that he is, gathered all his wildly powerful gal pals together and decided it was time to treat the humans below to unbelievable discounts and too-good-to-believe prices. And so, the outlet centre was born. My nearest outlet centre is 'Gunwharf Quays' in Portsmouth - an outdoor retail metropolis right on the harbour, offering marked down items from loads of high street and high-end stores. So when my sister asked me if I wanted to come along on her 'holiday shopping' trip, how could I resist?
We got some insanely good deals from All Saints, Fossil, Superdry, Jack Wills and Gap, with most stores offering an extra 30% off the already marked down ticket price. Rejoice! Oh the damage I could've done in Gap - give me all the ripped-up boyfriend jeans, am I right? 

Once our arms began hurting from carrying all the shopping, and our jaws became permanently locked in a shocked expression over just how much we managed to save during what we presumed to be a very pricey expedition (All Saints, I'm looking at you), we decided to take a lunch break at Zizzi's, one of the many restaurants located right on the waterfront. Sure, it was rather 'breezy', shall we say, but the sun was shining and I enjoyed a warm bowl of tomatoey pasta with a chunk of mozzarella cheese. Mmmm, cheese. (Most of the eateries here are the regular chain restaurants which mean they suit all appetites - my favourites places to visit are: Loch Fyne, La Tasca, Slug & Lettuce and Zizzi's).
After lunch we finished our circuit of the outlet and paid one final stop into, of course, the Cadbury store, where we had to pick up a pack of Crunchies for our dad and watched as the array of tourists picked up bars of Dairy Milk and held them as though they were prized treasure. I think we were both grateful when we had a short escalator ride down to the underground parking as our legs couldn't possibly walk any further.

We had a relaxing day meandering through the shopping streets, soaking in the various cultures, as well as the vitamin D from above us (and feeling hugely jealous of the university graduates strolling around in their robes as I still have over three months until my own ceremony. Boo!)

~ Eleanor xo

Friday, 17 July 2015

Link Love #1

The internet is one of the greatest places to discover new content and fresh insights so I thought (I'd be hella original and) instead of reading and disregarding the links I click on, I'd create a series on my blog where I could compile and share some of my favourite finds. Here I'll be sharing links to everything from cool recipes I want to try, to unmissable Buzzfeed articles, to how to style your home like Cameron Diaz's. Who knows what inspirational stuff we'll find next...
  1. A recipe for grilled peaches served with honey and yogurt that I can't wait to try out {via SkinnyTaste}

  2. An extremely relatable Buzzfeed post about why Hilary Duff's solo artist career is the single best thing to ever happen to the world {via Buzzfeed}

  3. The most accurate break down of how Brit's survive a heatwave {via Huffington Post}

  4. A homemade softening face mask, featuring the trusty avocado - great for when it's warm out {via The New Potato}

  5. Want to know what you'd find in Mary-Kate & Ashley's pad? Of course you do! {via My Domaine}

  6. Great techniques for how to focus when your energy is lacking {via The New Potato}

  7. Eight life lessons we can all learn from the majestic unicorn that is Leslie Knope {via The Everygirl}

  8. In which Martha Stewart interviews Justin Bieber. Because, obvs. {via The Interview}

  9. Watch what happens when Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe takes on the challenge of being a receptionist for an hour (spoiler alert: it's hysterical) {via Nylon}

  10. As if you needed reminding of just why Jennifer Lawrence is an angel sent from heaven {via Marie Claire}
Until next time,
~ Eleanor xo

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Where to eat in Albufeira, Portugal

Let's be real, one of the best things about going to a new place is trying the food. Or is that just me? Am I just obsessed with food? Probably. But that's not the point. I have an insane obsession with Spanish food; the meats, the fruits, the fish, the tomatoes, everything is better in España than it is en Inglaterra.

So having never been to Portugal before, I was excited to try some of the local cuisine and discover what dishes the Algarve had to offer. As none of us were old enough to rent a car (boo!), we chose restaurants that were within walking distance of our apartment, which largely fell into the area of the old town. Here's my verdict on some of the places we tried...
Best for: Pleasing everyone

We chose to eat at Downtown on our first night as by the time 7pm rolled around, we'd been up and awake for sixteen hours and were in serious need of nourishment. The menu (that's designed to look like a hipstery newspaper) isn't exactly that vast, but for an exclusively pizza and pasta restaurant, it provides exactly what you'd expect. I opted for the Capricciosa Pizza (a pizza with mozzarella, ham, mushroom and tomato) that was reasonably priced and had that distinct 'this has just been made and cooked fresh' taste, which was great.

The menu also offers you the opportunity to build your own pizza if those listed on the menu don't quite take your fancy, which I thought was a pretty neat feature. The service was quick and the wait staff are all really friendly and some of the more helpful we came across.

Best for: A dinner & cocktail combo

One of the pricier options, but the food was a good quality, and the service was definitely fast - whether that's because we were being typically British and eating early while most of the restaurant was empty, I cannot say. The menu definitely favoured Mexican and burger dishes but I'd say there was a decent amount of choice. The servers outside the restaurant were some of the more pushy (and handsy), but the food we ordered was tasty, but maybe not quite worthy of the price tag - €13 for a grilled chicken salad? Seems a bit much. However, the presentation of the burgers was adorable, with the side of fries being presented in tiny chip pan baskets.

In terms of cocktails, the drinks menu was not as extensive as you'd expect from somewhere with 'bar' in the title. As well as that, the prices are pretty hefty and the servers weren't all that nice, and frankly, there appeared to be little alcohol in the drink. Still, Our Sex on the Beaches arrived Instagram-ready with decadent decorations and extra long straws.
Best for: Great value cocktails

Meet Bar (on Avenida 25 de Abril)

More slightly pushy promoters trying to get us into the bar with a "think how much more attractive I'd look if I was holding a puppy" ego and a constant assumption that because we were British, we had euros to splash - sadly not when you're on a student budget, my friend!

Still, these cocktails definitely had alcohol in them and a huge €6 peach daiquiri served with a (slightly scary and a potential health risk) sparkler for sure hit the mark. The promoter promised that if I uploaded the below picture to Instagram, it'd get 250 likes. It didn't. ShockerBeware that although the music is really good, you will be surrounded by rather drunk men at about 10pm (and probably earlier). Get it together, lads!
Best for: Variety

This restaurant had an extensive meat and steak menu with good portion sizes and a family friendly atmosphere. After toying between the grilled chicken and the pork schnitzel (served with chips and salad), I decided to go with the latter as I hadn't eaten schnitzel in so long but it's always a firm favourite. But fear not, there's something for everyone with the menu being vegetarian friendly. The restaurant is also in a great location for people watching and always appeared to be a popular spot.

Rock Cafe Bar (on Largo Engenheiro Duarte Pacheco)

Choosing what to eat here was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. The menu had so much choice with salads, meats, fish and pasta dishes all calling out to me. In the end I managed to decide upon a grilled tuna steak in onion and olive oil (served with baked potato and vegetables), that, no lie, I am still dreaming about to this day. It was cooked to absolute perfection and tasted amazing. Across the table, similar reactions were had for grilled chicken and vegetarian pasta. Fairly reasonable prices and staff that are up for some banter.
Best for: Brunch

I know what you're thinking, "brunch, at a place called 'Burger Bar'? Are you crazy?". Nope, not crazy, but after wandering around in the increasing heat, we discovered that Portugal, or at least, this particular town, isn't exactly into brunch. Our best option was Burger Bar and we weren't disappointed by what we got (anywhere that offers coffee and dutch apple pie for €3,50 knows what's up).

We all opted for a waffle with strawberries, ice cream, cream and strawberry sauce, accompanied by a homemade iced coffee (which has a distinct likening to the always-tasty Starbucks Frappuccino). The waffles were devoured and the iced coffees annihilated, but to say I had a severe whipped cream overdose is an understatement - I was full up for days. Burger Bar is a cool place to hang out and is very reasonably priced.
Best for: Gelato!

You can't go on holiday and not go out and each fresh ice cream on the beach at least once (turns out, we went twice). While the price was rather steep, with the cheapest place charging €3,80 for two scoops, there were a lot of super fun and exotic flavours to choose from. We all took this very seriously and spent an age coming up with the perfect combinations. Of course I had to have at least one scoop of my favourite flavour, mint chocolate chip which I paired with pistachio, and upon trying a spoonful of my friend's coffee ice cream, I chose a combination of coffee and banana & chocolate ice cream the following evening.

Ice cream is the best way to round off a day in the sun, so long as you devour it before it melts down your arm or falls on the floor. Nobody should have to cry over spilled ice cream, but I think I would.
Read part one of my Albufeiraian adventures here!
~ Eleanor xo

Friday, 3 July 2015

June Favourites

Am I sitting here writing this post while drinking coffee out of a mug with reindeers dancing on it and nibbling on ginger biscuits that for real taste like the embodiment of Christmas? You bet your sweet Aunt Petunia I am! (Soz, I've been re-reading the Harry Potter books and it's basically all I can think about now). Yes, it appears my body just can't let go of Christmas, even if it was over six months ago, or if you're being super organised, still five months away.

I may still be using my favourite Christmas mug because 2015 is flying by, I mean, how is it already three days into July? What is this witchcraft!?

June was a particularly quick month I feel, a week of which was spent on the sunny shores of the Algarve (not too shabby), and the rest were spent... Being totally productive and having zilch mental breakdowns... *cough cough*.

Anyway! Here's what I've loved this month:
  1. Nivea After Sun Moisture: After six days of lying in direct sun using both out-of-date sun cream and after sun, I was elated and almost in tears when I got home to find a new (in date) bottle of heaven Nivea in the fridge. Since my return almost two weeks ago (sob), I've been applying this to my skin every morning after I shower and occasionally in the evenings if my skin feels tight. It's really great quality, affordable and the aloe vera smell is heavenly!

  2. Before I Go To sleep by S J Watson: So I downloaded this book out of curiosity with the intention of reading it while on holiday... Instead, I ended up reading the entire book on the same day I downloaded it. I literally could not put it down. I'm now dying to see the film; seriously, if you enjoy mystery books with unexpected plot twists, pick up a copy of this book.

  3. Diorshow Iconic Mascara: I love a good mascara, but this? This is next level stuff. I need a full size tube of this asap because I am obsessed with how it looks. This was originally a gift so I'm not sure on the price, but I think we can assume it won't be in the affordable section of Boots. Either way, my lashes look longer, fuller and more defined, without being clumpy or heavy. It's a dream! *insert heart eye emoji here*.

  4. Pitch Perfect 2 Soundtrack: If you haven't been playing the song 'flashlight' on repeat for the last month then you must be living under a rock. It's an incredible track and Hailee Steinfeld (hola new girl crush) does an amazing job (listen to her acoustic version here and prepare to fall in love). I was so excited to finally see Pitch Perfect 2 and it was honestly everything I could've hoped for and more. And let's be real here, is there anything Elizabeth Banks can't do?! I am in awe!

  5. Zara Black Skinny Jeans: I've wanted a pair of black skinny jeans for about a century and this month I finally found a pair I loved! And even better, they were a super affordable price, a rarity in the kingdom of Zara. I've been wearing them so much lately, I love how comfy they are and how easy it is to dress them up or down. I feel so sophisticated!

  6. Tahitian Escape Shower Moisturiser: Seriously, I need this stuff on tap, it is amazing. It smells so fresh and exotic and is so nourishing on my skin (and at only £4.50 from M&S? Bargain). Can I please also have this in a scented candle, reed diffuser, perfume, and any other product that requires a scent? 
Here's to a sweltering July where I don't spontaneously combust or complain too much about the heat. Oh and that my uni results tell me I've passed.
~ Eleanor xo

Bonus: Favourite news story: "Pink flamingo receives brand new prosthetic leg after injury" via Mashable