Hops + Dough at the Kings Arms

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Having lived in London by whole life, one thing I do love about the countryside are the lovely old-fashioned pubs. So when I was asked to review The King’s Arms* in Hanwell, Ealing in West London, I jumped at the chance! Not only did I use to work very close by, but also it’s not too far from where I live, so it would be perfect for a little weekend jaunt.

We arrived around 4pm on a Saturday afternoon whilst England were playing France in the Six Nations (awkward that France won, but that’s by the by!). The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the decor. It had such a homely, family feel and people had brought their dogs too, so that helps to give the pub that friendly vibe.

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After looking at the menu, we ordered a bottle of white wine, which was a Pinot Grigio and went down veryyyy smoothly! So I apologise for the misleading blog title, I’m just not a fan of beer in general!

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I really liked the fact that the menu wasn’t overly extensive. It was simple and it just made things easier. They also focus on pizzas for food, which if you’re looking for a pub with a range of dishes then this isn’t the place for you. However, the quote ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’  springs to mind.

For food, we ordered two pizzas: the serrano, which was a pizza with cured serrano ham, marscapone, shaved parmesan and rocket – yum! And the calzone lombardy: which had lombardy ham, mushrooms, ricotta and truffle oil.

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The area we were sitting in, didn’t have a TV, which at first surprised me as most people we were surrounded by were craning their necks to watch the rugby. However, there are 2 dedicated areas for people to watch sports, so the area we were sitting in were perfect for a chilled time.

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All in all, I had such a perfect Saturday. I love spending time in a chilled environment and this was the ideal place for me. So if you’re ever in the West London area, I would totally recommend this pub.

What would be your perfect Saturday?

*THIS POST CONTAINS A FREE MEAL BUT AS ALWAYS ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN – PLEASE SEE MY DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO

My 24th Birthday

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Every year, without fail, I get stuck by the age-old question: what do I want to do for my birthday this year?

Welllll, this year I made a very organised decision, and thought instead of celebrating my birthday for the entire month (!!!), I’d do 3 separate events with the people I love most in the world!

(No shade to anyone who celebrates their birthday for the entire month – I’d love to have the time and money to do that!)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling the best (I complained multiple times on social media so you missed out on those moody tweets if you don’t follow me on Twitter then you are missing out pal!), so I had to make the best out of a bad situation.

The first thing I wanted to do was go away for a weekend, with my sisters and my Mum. I did want to go with my Dad too, but unfortunately he couldn’t get out of work. I wrote a whole post on my trip to Edinburgh, which you can read here as I can never resist adding to my Travel Diaries haha, you may have noticed that the travel part of my blog is my absolute fave! I won’t bore you with the details of the trip, but it was actually one of the nicest trips I’ve been on and Edinburgh was absolutely stunning!

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I took the day off on my actual birthday, which was on a Wednesday so a lil’ mid-week break was a-calling! We stayed in the Holiday Inn Kensington and it was such a perfect stay. The hotel is on Kensington High Street so there is no shortage of shops and restaurants, and the area is always buzzing with people. I spent the Tuesday evening in bed eating a burger from Five Guys (which is making my mouth water just thinking about it), and I woke up on my birthday feeling so content with life.

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I had a massage booked at the hotel’s spa which is Imagine Spa (one of my favourites), and as per usual, their service was amazing. I opted for a Raindrop Massage, which is their signature massage and it was incredible. The therapist poured hot oil on the backs of my legs and on my back, and gave me a deep tissue massage and exfoliation. It was just so good, I wanted to stay there forever. The actual spa itself was really nice too, with a big pool, a hot-tub, steam room and a sauna that was actually located in the changing rooms. I don’t know what it is about spas, but I genuinely just love them, they make me so bloody happy.

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The last thing I did to celebrate my birthday was go to a bottomless brunch. I love daytime drinking, it’s just so much fun! I invited my bestest girlfriends along with my sisters and I just had the nicest day. We went to Galvin Hop in Spital Square and I had avocado on toast and the pecan pie. I was quite ill so it wasn’t ideal as I couldn’t taste much, but the food looked great, albeit slightly small portions, but what are you gonna do eh? Also the rye bread was a *touch* too sweet for a savoury dish but apart from that, the prosecco went down a treat!

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So that was my 24th birthday! How do you celebrate your birthday?

11 Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

I know Valentine’s Day is not for everyone, and it is also very commercialised (trust me I know, I share my birthday with the damn day!), but I also think that it encourages people to make effort and give yourselves and your partners a lil’ treat! You may or may not agree, but as much as I do sometimes wish it wasn’t my birthday on the same day, there is something a little bit cute about it.

I know that not everyone has a lot of cash to splash, especially to endorse a commercialised holiday such as Valentine’s Day but if you do want to do something and not break the bank, I’ve split these suggestions into ‘Budget Ideas’ and ‘Higher End Ideas’ to make it easier!

Budget Ideas

Organise a Scavenger Hunt – I love this idea so much, it can be tailored to any kind of budget, and you can be as creative as you like! It could be around your house, around your garden or even as adventurous as around your town. If you wanted to, you could leave little presents at each checkpoint instead of a big present at the end – it’s totally up to because you can customise it!

Outdoor Cinemas – This is all the rage now especially around London, and I think this is a lovely idea. When it’s chilly you can snuggle up to your significant other and watch a romantic movie. I know the prices can range from about £12 to £30 per person, so if you can spare it then it is definitely worth it. I visited the Winter Garden outdoor cinema in Clapham Common before Christmas to watch The Holiday and it was so cute! I really want to visit the Backyard Cinema next!

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Photo taken from Backyard Cinema

Dinner & a Movie – This classic date idea is a classic for a reason. If you’re feeling a little bit broke then you can buy fresh ingredients and make something from scratch, such a good idea because it shows that you put effort into it! Also now that Netflix and Amazon Prime are so readily available, I don’t really buy DVD’s anymore, but if you have a favourite movie as a couple, it might be a good idea to invest so that you can always watch your favourite movie with your favourite person (alllllll the cheese).

Volunteer – Everyone needs a little love at this time of the year, and I have been donating a lot of time recently to various different charities and homeless people. Maybe organise a day that you can spend some time volunteering at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter and give something back together. I’ve volunteered at Crisis London many times, and it’s a fab thing to do.

 

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Photo from Crisis London

Build a Fort – Just because we’re adults, that doesn’t mean we can’t behave like children sometimes! Get some blankets, pillows, fairy lights and set up in front of the TV with lots of films and you’re sorted! Bonus points if you have red wine, cheese and crackers, turn it into a lil’ indoor picnic and go wild!

Higher End Ideas

Salsa Class – I used to take salsa classes through my office until the teacher couldn’t teach the class anymore. I found it so much fun and with the right partner it can be very sensual. If you haven’t done anything similar to this with your partner then it can be a great way to have some fun and relax after a long day at work. It can also get your super fit so get booking a class and shimmy the night away! There are lots of options, especially in London, so LondonSalsa is a great place to start!

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Photo from London Salsa

Spa Day – I am in love with spa days, I think they are the perfect way to relax and with options to have couples massages, it is the nicest way to spend an afternoon with your beloved. They can be quite pricey so keep a lookout for any cheaper deals you can find. I know SpaBreaks always have some good deals.

Wine Tasting – If you read my ‘What I Got For Christmas 2017’ you will know that I received a voucher for a wine-tasting experience, and I just think it’s such a great idea to do something like with your partner. Obviously it’s a bonus if you and your OH like drinking wine, but even if you didn’t it might be the perfect opportunity to try it and see what you think. Either way, it’s something totally different and fun!

Cooking Class – This would be my ideal date night, maybe that is because I just love cooking and it really does soothe me. But also, I think it’s quite cool that you can learn a some new recipes. It’s quite sweet that you can go home and make that kind of food again and again and always be reminded of a cool date! Groupon always has some great deals on.

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Photo from atelierdeschefs

City Break – This can definitely be a pricey one, especially if you want to leave the country and visit a European city for example, but there are plenty of lovely cities in England that would make for an amazing weekend break, such as Oxford or Bath. You can always look for cheap airline deals online, and look for Air BnB‘s instead of fancier hotels.

Bonus Date Idea

Lastly, you can re-create your first date. Now this is a bonus date idea because everyone’s first date is totally different and of course different budgets. But generally if it’s something you can re-create, such as a cinema and a pizza date, then why not? It’s such a romantic idea and it will show that you’ve thought about it and put some effort into the idea.

So those are my Valentine’s Day Date Ideas! Which of these are your favourites? Do you have any plans for Valentines Day?

Ramona Tells Jim: A Review

Going to the theatre is one of my favourite pastimes. I love the atmosphere, I love having a drink in the bar beforehand, and I love the feeling of winding down. So when the Bush Theatre invited me to watch one of their latest plays, how could I say no?

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Photo by Sam Taylor

Ramona Tells Jim is a thought-provoking, bittersweet story about 17 year old Jim (Joe Bannister), who lives in the ‘shittiest’ village in Scotland and 15 year old Ramona (Ruby Bentall), who is from Englandshire, visiting the ‘shittiest’ town in Scotland on a school trip. Both of them are socially awkward and begin to fall in love with each other. Ramona, lonely and bullied by her classmates, finds friendship and her first love in Jim, a shy but kind soul, obsessed with crustaceans. The innocent side of the play begins to take a turn, and darker themes such as sexual assault and violence are shown, although rather acutely.

The play visits both characters 15 years later, where it is seemingly obvious that neither of them are happy about the way their lives turned out. Jim is now in a dysfunctional relationship with 19 year-old Pocahontas (Amy Lennox) and although I really liked the characters of Jim and Ramona, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Pocahontas. I think she was a fantastic actress, but her character was so childish and petty. The kind of character who fakes a pregnancy and won’t even know if it’s your baby, or has dreams of working in an office to wear trouser suits and eating a Boots meal deal for lunch, which the audience laughs at. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her, whether I felt sorry for her or disliked her. Perhaps that was the way I was meant to feel.

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Photo by Sam Taylor

This was the first play that Sophie Wu (Kick-Ass, Wild Child), an inspiring playwright and actress, has written, after being a member of the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Playwright group. For a first play, I thought it was fantastic. The dialogue was intelligent and flowed, and all of the characters were bounced off of each other really well.

Besides the play, I was so happy and excited to visit the Bush Theatre again. I have visited before, when I watched Guards at the Taj, and it is fast becoming one of my favourite theatres in London. Ever since the refurbishment, it has a totally different vibe to it, and whenever I visit I just don’t want to leave. Their Reading Room, which is a room filled with books and mismatched chairs has the cosiest feel to it. If you haven’t visited then I totally recommend it!

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Photo by Sam Taylor

Have you seen any new plays recently?

Ramona Tells Jim is at Bush Theatre until October 21st

Best Rooftop Bars in London

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If you’re a Londoner you will know just how important a great bar is, whether that be for after work cocktails, a lunchtime tipple or just a quick beer before you move on to a club. Now think about (the very few days of) summer and that lovely warm sunshine and if you’re anything like me then you’ll be imagining a rooftop bar. Rooftop bars in London are very common now (slightly weird as we get like 200 days of rain in a year, but I’m not complaining!), and they make just having an after-work drink all the more exciting.

Drinking at rooftop bars is one of my favourite pastimes so I knew I had to write a post about some of my favourite bars in my favourite city. Some of the ones that made it on the list I have visited and loved, and some I can’t wait to visit in the future.

1. Pergola on the Roof

Pergola is a pop-up bar and there are two Pergola locations: the original one in White City and a newer one in Paddington, and the Paddington one is the one I’ve visited. They have loads of cool pop-up restaurants such as Patty + Bun and Raw Press. They also have amazing beds, that we had for a little while before we moved downstairs to eat. The drinks are very reasonably priced, and I would fully recommend the cocktails: I had the Le Gran Fizz but with my old pal gin instead of vodka – so gorgeous! You will have to book here which is super handy but you can only book for groups with 4 or more, so for date night it’s better to just walk in!

♦ Visited ♦

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Pergola White City: Multi Story Car Park, Television Centre, Wood Lane, White City, London, United Kingdom W12 7RJ

Pergola Paddington Central: 5 Kingdom Street, Paddington Central, London, United Kingdom W2 6PY

Pergola is open until October 1st

2. Radio Rooftop

Radio Rooftop bar is located on the 10th floor of the ME hotel and has amazing views of the Thames and the London skyline. It has been on my list for ages and I need to go and have a drink there soon! From what everyone has told me, the views are great and the drinks are gorgeous. They also do brunch on Sundays, which I am an absolute sucker for, and their restaurant is meant to be really good as well! You have to book here as well so keep that in mind.

ME London, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA

3. Madisons

Madisons is one of my favourites, simply because it is so close to my workplace. I love how accessible it is, being a penthouse of the shopping centre One New Change by St Pauls Cathedral. The cocktails are amazing, bar staff are super friendly and the views are incredible. Having St Pauls Cathedral as a backdrop is absolute killer. If you haven’t been, you definitely have to! You don’t have to book but you have the option to which is nice.

♦ Visited ♦

Madison Restaurant, Rooftop Terrace, One New Change, St Paul’s, London, EC4M 9AF

4. Coq D’Argent

Another place I have visited recently which is close to my work place is Coq D’Argent. This bar is closer to Bank, being literally opposite exit 9. The terraces are heated, making this bar the perfect place for those chilly nights. The views are amazing, and the drinks were good – pretty pricey but what to expect from a London bar. The decor was very floral when I went, and it definitely felt like summer. You can book tables here so it’s quite handy if you want definite seats, but if you decide to come here on a whim it’s fine because bar snacks need no reservations – best of both worlds!

♦ Visited ♦

Coq D’Argent No.1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ

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5. Aqua Spirit

Aqua Spirit is a cool little cocktail bar near Mayfair, a definite possibility for pre-clubbing drinks. It looks very sophisticated and is located on the 5th floor, and it’s more of an outdoor terrace that you can watch the sunset from and then move into the restaurant bar when it gets too cold. You can’t book here, so entrance is on a first-come-first-served basis. The drinks are renowned here so it’s perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or a boozy post-dinner date.

5th Floor, 240 Regent Street (Entrance 30 Argyll Street), London, UK W1B 3BR

6. SkyLounge

The 12th floor of the Hilton Tower of London offers amazing views of the skyline, as well as two outdoor terraces. What I really enjoyed about this bar is that when I visited around Christmas time, they had special Christmas themed cocktails! I just think it’s so lovely that they did that and it added something different to my experience. There are loads of different landmarks that you can see from this bar so you can get loads of great pics for your Insta, and it has a really nice chilled out vibe. Bar tables can be booked, but they do accept walk-ins from my understanding.

♦ Visited ♦

7 Pepys Street, London, EC3N 4AF,United Kingdom

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7. Sky Garden

Probably one of the most aesthetically-pleasing places in the whole of London, and I still can’t believe I haven’t visited. Sky Garden is a beautiful glass dome, located at 20 Fenchurch Street on top of a building nicknamed the Walkie Talkie building. They have three floors of gardens, outdoor terraces, and observation decks. The view of the skyline looks insane, and the drinks look even better. They also have a few restaurants, which would make for the perfect date night. Booking here is tricky, they only have a set amount of tickets and you have to be quick to snatch them before they go. Tickets are only available for a certain amount of time as well, so be warned and make the most of your time.

1 Sky Garden Walk, London, EC3M 8AF

8. Rooftop Garden at John Lewis

This is the second year that John Lewis has opened their rooftop garden in their store on Oxford Street: the perfect little pit-stop after the bustle of London’s favourite shopping area. What I really like about this place is that they have events happening all the time, such as yoga classes, and lifestyle workshops, so it’s not just somewhere to go and drink and chill (although you can do that if you want to), but it’s somewhere you can spend the whole day, doing an activity and enjoy the views at the same time. There is also a great restaurant, and if you get bored – you’re on London’s busiest shopping street! You can reserve tables here, or rather ‘summerhouses’ and ‘pavilions’ – ooh la la!

Rooftop Garden is open until September 24th

300 Oxford St, London W1C 1DX

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9. Roof Deck at Selfridges

Another cute little gem located on Oxford Street, this time at Selfridges. Apparently they have the best guacamole in town, which everyone knows is definitely worth an excuse to visit. Dining al-fresco is always exciting, mostly because you never know whether it will be rain or sun (haha), but the food looks amazing, I’ve never been disappointed with any food I’ve had from Selfridges! Booking is recommended here as well, I have heard it gets quite busy too so maybe it’s worth booking.

Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB

10. Rumpus Rooms

I really wish I hadn’t visited this place when it was a dark and gloomy day in London, but at least it wasn’t raining (every cloud and all that!). But even when it was a little grey, the atmosphere of Rumpus Room was very energetic, and I loved their cocktails. The only thing I didn’t like was their queuing system; I stood in a queue at the bar for ages until I got to the front where they told me that queue was for VIP’s *facepalm*, but after that I got served pretty quickly so all was forgiven! Rumpus Rooms is located on the top floor of the Mondrian Hotel, and offers panoramic views of London, as well as being within walking distance of lots of famous landmarks, such as the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre, as well as the London Eye and Borough Market. Definitely worth a visit! No booking is necessary here.

♦ Visited ♦

20, Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD 

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11. Kensington Roof Gardens

I love the area of Kensington ever since I was little, and then I grew up and started watching Made in Chelsea which made me love it even more. Their Roof Gardens are one of Kensington’s spectacular venues and the restaurant is called Babylon, where you can have drinks on the terrace. The gardens are set 100ft above London, and is on the 7th floor, so you can imagine the views are insane! The actual gardens look amazing, and they are free to visit but you will have to book a table to have drinks or lunch. Also don’t forget your ID because they are super strict!

99, Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA

12. Sushi Samba

If you are a sushi lover like I am, this should be at the top of your list if you haven’t already visited! Sushi Samba is located on the 38th and 39th floors of Bishopsgate, and features the highest outdoor terraces in London. There are 360 views of London, with wall to floor glass windows, and glass elevators taking you up. The decor is an outdoor-indoor theme, with trees featuring heavily, and there are lots of fairy lights so it makes for perfect Instagram photos. You have to book a table here for the food but you don’t need a reservation for the bar, just note that it gets very busy in the evenings so bear that in mind.

♦ Visited ♦

Sushi Samba, London, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY

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13. Queen of Hoxton

QOH is located in Shoreditch, and that is one of my favourite places in London. It’s so edgy and hipster and cool, and even though I am none of those things it is a great area to go for drinks. There are views of the Shoreditch skyline, and it transforms twice a year from a snuggly, cosy winter rooftop bar to a summer, basking-in-the-heat rooftop bar. It gets super busy here so queues may be inevitable, but there is no need to book so it all depends on your luck!

1-5 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3JX

14. Bōkan

Bokan looks like a very cool place to have a drink. Located in the heart of Canary Wharf, it consists of three floors: 37, 38 and 39. The 37th floor is the restaurant, there is a bar on the 38th floor and the rooftop terrace is located on the 39th floor. It looks so exciting, it has a specialist gin bar (cannot wait to try this!), jazz days on Sundays and daytime beds, which all make for a perfect weekend spot. I would definitely book here, it gets super busy and is very popular, so don’t risk it!

Floor 37-39, 40 Marsh Wall, London E14 9TP

15. Aviary

Aviary is a place I cannot wait to visit – it just looks like it has the best vibes! It is located on the 10th floor of the Finsbury Square’s Montcalm Hotel, and has amazing panoramic views of the city. Definitely the ideal post-work drinks location – you will often see people in work clothes, enjoying some down time. The food looks amazing too, I think I will definitely have to make a night of it when I go! Again, I would book this if I had the chance, you never know how busy it will get and it’s a very popular place.

Rooftop Restaurant and Terrace Bar, 10th Floor Montcalm Royal, London House Hotel, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London, EC2A 1DX

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So those were my top-picks for rooftop bars in London!

Did your favourite bars make it onto the list? How many have you been to? Let me know in the comments below!