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People often think that as a blogger I get hundreds of exciting opportunities, and really nothing could be further from the truth. However on the odd occasion, there’s a little gem that brightens up my email inbox and when I got my invite to visit the Royal Oak that was definitely one of them.

As much as I love working in central London and trying out all the amazing bars and restaurants there, there is something very comforting about friendly neighbourhood pubs. You could live in London all your life (like I have) and not find a place that people will know you in, just because it’s not practical.

The Royal Oak in Twickenham is a newly refurbished gastropub and I was very kindly invited to review a three course meal alongside a selection of beers, ales and wines that would suit the food.

To say I was excited was a complete understatement – loads of food and accompanying wines?! Who wouldn’t be excited?!

The starters and desserts were small dishes so we didn’t have individual dishes, instead there were 4/5 different starters for everyone to share. At first I thought it might be a bit awkward to share food with strangers but actually it was a great idea to get everyone talking and taste 4/5 dishes instead of just one starter.

Well played guys…

The starters were:

– Watercress Risotto, Pea Shoots (V) £7

– Chicken Livers, Smoked Lardon, Sourdough £7

– Charred Cauliflower, Romesco, Quinoa (VG) £7

– Gazpacho, Heritage Tomatoes, Tapenade (V) £6.5

– Hendricks Gin Cured Salmon, Dill, Mustard, Toast £7.8

My favourite dish was definitely the salmon on toast, it was gorgeous and I really liked the hint of mustard running through it as well. My sister really enjoyed the watercress risotto as well, it was very fresh and flavourful.

For the main course, we had already pre-picked our dishes. I chose the roast sea bream with chorizo hash and asparagus and my sister chose the chargrilled lamb that was served with salsa verde and sautéed potatoes. My sister thought the lamb was a tad tough but I couldn’t have loved my fish more. It was just the perfect dish, everything complemented everything and it was the perfect portion size.

The choice of main courses were:

–  Chargrilled Lamb Gigot, Salsa Verde, Sautè Potatoes £15.8

– Dressed Dorset Crab, Saffron Aioli, Fries £17.5

–  10OZ Bone In Sirloin, Peppercorn Sauce, Watercress £25

–  Roast Sea Bream, Chorizo Hash, Asparagus £14.5

– Aubergine, Falafel, Charred Gem, Grilled Pepper £10

– Pork Schnitzel, Fried Duck Egg, Fine Bean, Shallot & Butter Lettuce Salad £13.50

Like I mentioned before, they gave us small plates of desserts and they were insane. All (bar one) priced at £5.50, so you can definitely indulge without feeling guilty – well about the price anyways!

The desserts were:

– Banoffee Pot

– Warm Chocolate & Hazelnut Brownie, Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce

– Amalfi Lemon and Raspberry Posset

– Eton Mess

– Baked Camembert, Garlic, Truffled Honey £9.8

My favourite had to be Banoffee Pot, it was just the most perfect mixture of toffee and bananas and caramel. YUM!

I thought it was so great that they invited the wine merchants and ale and beer suppliers that they use in the pub, because they gave great advice on what wines/beers to have with what food. I asked about a million questions to the wine guy about wine etiquette and now I feel very much prepared to go wine-tasting/drinking – yay!

More than anything I was so happy that I’ve found a nice family gastropub that is not too far from where I live, but also nice enough to chill at during the breezy summer evenings by the river, or on a nice sunny Sunday afternoon. If you are ever in the area of Twickenham/Richmond, you should definitely pop in!

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Photo Credit: Amelia

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This post is a bit late considering I attended this event a few weeks ago now, but better late than never right?

So I attended the #bloggerswhobrunch launch event a few weeks ago.

I had said to myself that I really wanted to attend a bloggers event this year and even though it was a real push, I am glad I did it.

It was in London so I really wanted to make the effort and attend because I live and work in London so really I should have zero problems getting to and from the event.

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The location itself was stunning, it was a penthouse and the views were pretty good, even if it was a pretty dreary rainy day!

But I didn’t have the best time, I personally felt really quite lonely. I know loads of people met up beforehand but I didn’t know about that and plus I was a bit late getting to the event so I think that would’ve been pretty annoying for people to have to wait for me.

I generally felt like there were cliques, now don’t get me wrong, I love the blogging community and I have always been met with nothing but support and love, but on this occasion I didn’t really feel a part of it. It perhaps was my fault too because I didn’t know anyone and I could’ve spoken to people and made some effort, but it was a hard time because I was in a room with so many people and it was overwhelming.

I think perhaps there should’ve been more ways of interacting and getting to know people better, maybe with start-up games etc? I don’t know and I’m not criticizing, I have never organised this type of event before so I don’t doubt that it is a lot of hard work but I have to be honest and this is genuinely how I felt.

Some of things I did enjoy were the talks from LexiLife94  about YouTube and from Katherine who is a photographer. And of course I enjoyed the popcorn!

I didn’t want to write this post because I didn’t want to come across negative but I did want to post my pictures somewhere and even though I want my blog to be a positive place, I will always be true and honest to myself and my readers.

Have you ever been to a bloggers event before? Did you enjoy it?

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner. (1)

Credit: Marc Brenner

As a London-based blogger and someone who works and lives in London, I think it’s so important to unwind after work and immerse yourself in the many cultural activities that London has to offer.

So I was very excited to be invited to the Bush Theatre for their production of Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph.

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner. (2)

Credit: Marc Brenner

Walking into the Bush Theatre, you can definitely tell it has had a makeover. The building itself is very accessible and it now has an outdoor terrace decorated with flowers, definitely one of my favourite parts of the refurb. You can imagine yourself discussing thoughts on the play you’ve just watched, glass of wine in hand, soaking in those last few minutes of the evening summer sunshine.

Anyways, back to the play.

Guards at the Taj starts off quite slowly; for some, this may be dullingly slow, but for me it was needed as a way for the main characters to involve the audience into the background of the story. The two main characters Babur (played by Darren Kuppan) and Humayan (played by Danny Ashok) are guarding the beautiful and world-famous Taj Mahal. They speak about many things (despite the fact that they are supposed to be silent), and this is where we get to see the difference of the two characters. Babur is a fun-loving, perhaps simple-minded sweet-natured person, whereas Humayan is a more serious, strong and silent character.

The story gets more serious here, when the myth of Shah Jahan cutting off the hands of 20,000 workers so that they could never recreate such beauty again, comes into the story. The two characters are employed to carry out the unthinkable actions, and the effects that it has on Darren is heartbreaking.

Danny Ashok and Darren Kuppon in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

The friendship between Darren and Danny is truly beautiful to watch and they convincingly bounce off each other. The set was astonishingly simple and it worked so well because you focus on the character and the story, which is where the true beauty lies.

Darren Kuppan and Danny Ashok in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

The lighting is also something I noticed a lot, especially in the final heart wrenching scene, perhaps it was because the set was so simple, but the orange hues of dreams contrasted with the bright lights of reality were really effective. Bright lights were also used to signify the beauty of the Taj Mahal, which I thought was used really well.

This was also the first play that I’d seen directed by Jamie Lloyd, and I was thoroughly impressed. The play itself is darker than I thought and honestly, 80 minutes wasn’t enough – I really thought I’d struggle with not going to the bathroom / checking my phone / getting hungry / getting thirsty (yes I am clearly a 5 year old), but the play completely had my attention. Big sign that I was engrossed.

Danny Ashok and Darren Kuppan in Guards at the Taj at the Bush Theatre. Credit Marc Brenner.

Credit: Marc Brenner

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the play and I didn’t read any reviews beforehand as I wanted to form my own opinions, but I was very pleasantly surprised by what I watched.

I would highly recommend going to see Guards at the Taj, it is really thought-provoking and heartwarming, with dark themes conflicted with occasional streams of lightheartedness.

Have you seen any good plays recently? I’d love some recommendations!

Guards at the Taj, at the Bush Theatre, until 20th May

One of the things on my Chrismas Bucket List was to go ice-skating, just because it makes me feel so Christmassy. I love London anyways as I was born and bred here, but at Christmas time it’s so lovely and holds such a special place in my heart.

We originally wanted to go to Somerset House but it was all booked up so we decided to go to NHM instead, as it was another place on my list. It was so beautiful, even though we went during the day so next time I want to go in the evening and stare at all the lights forever and ever.

I really don’t think I’m a very good skater, but I try every year just because the adrenaline rush is amazing and you’re never going to be the only one who’s struggling on the ice, believe me! It usually takes me around 10 minutes to shuffle along the ice and then I gain a little bit more confidence, and the next thing you know, I’m gliding along like a pro! (Only joking, I lean forward a bit and feel really cool, until I nearly fall flat on my face and have a mini heart attack. Oh, life!)

In all honesty, it is one of the most Christmassy things that I like to do and it is like a proper work out as well, so make sure you treat yourself to a hot chocolate afterwards (that’s the way those calorie things work right?)

Have you been ice-skating yet? Where did you go?

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For my sister’s birthday a few weeks ago, we decided to go to the spa and have afternoon tea. I thought this was such an amazing idea because we could spend all day relaxing and because of work and University, we don’t always get to spend a lot of time together, so I thought this was a great idea. 

We booked a day in at the Hilton Syon Park, and my voucher included two treatments, which we could choose out of a Body Scrub, a Back Massage, a Body Wrap or an Express Facial, all of which were 30 minutes long. We also opted for the Afternoon Tea instead of lunch, because I’d never had Afternoon Tea before – I was so excited! Full use of the facilities were included: there was a heated swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a steam room and a sauna. There was a gym as well, which we all walked straight past…
On arrival, we were given a quick tour of the spa area, the relaxation room, and the changing rooms, and given our fluffy white robes and soft slippers. As soon as we had changed, we lounged on the sun loungers dotted around the pool area and did a bit of swimming, before heading to the relaxation area for our treatments. 

The relaxation area was gorgeous, it was a dimly lit room with the most comfortable beds and soft music playing and jugs of cold lemon water. Just amazing! I opted for the back massage and the body scrub. My therapist was so lovely and made me feel so relaxed the entire time. She did the body scrub first and it smelt amazing, I think it was pomegranate-scented but it was overly fruity smelling. So she scrubbed my whole body and then I had to rinse off using no soap in the adjoining shower room, and I kid you not, my whole body was as smooth as butter. After the scrub, she oiled my whole body which was just insane, I’m sure I was sleeping half the time she was doing it! And then came the fabulous back massage. OH MY GOD, it was amazing. Even though I get a little bit ticklish, I had so many knots in my back and she used high pressure to get those knots out, and I felt so much better after it. Afterwards, we kicked back in the relaxation room and spent a little more time in the steam room and sauna. After one more dip in the pool, we got changed and got ready for our afternoon tea.
With our afternoon tea, we also got a glass of bubbly which was a nice little addition (and my Mum doesn’t drink so guess who got TWO glasses, woop). The afternoon tea consisted of sandwiches, (yes smoked salmon and cream cheese, come at me!), a mixture of plain and sultana scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam which were just gorgeous, and then a selection of sweet treats. I chose the gingerbread chai latte, which was lovely, very festive!

After a fabulously relaxing day, we headed home, feeling thoroughly refreshed. I think my sister had a wonderful birthday and I would fully recommend visiting if you’re ever in the area! The staff and facilities are amazing and I already want to go back! 

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