Sorrento – June, 2015

Have you ever been to a place that when you leave you have to soak in every view in case you never return? A place that fills you with joy, radiates beauty and is everything you ever imagined it to be?

I have, and for me that is Italy.
My first visit was when I was 11, and it was my first holiday abroad. We flew to Tuscany, rented a car and drove to the top of a hill shrouded in mystery to find our perfect little rented house. This house was in a heart of a quaint village where we soaked in the Italian culture, this started the love I felt for the amazing country.
On June 8th 2015 the fire in my heart was ignited once more when me and my fiance landed in Sorrento.
Day 1
 

We were up at 6am sharp ready for a long day of travelling. By 11:30 we were at Birmingham Airport which is a lovely airport to get around and before we knew it we were on the plane, by 7 we were in Naples on the coach for the drive to Sorrento and then finally at 9:30 we were at the hotel, where we were greeted by the staff who had kept the kitchen open so we could have tea. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Admiral which was nestled into the cliff on the Marina Grande. I cannot recommend this hotel enough, it had excellent food, very lovely and welcoming staff and the BEST views.

View from our balcony

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Harry Potter’s London

I think I may have mentioned that I like Harry Potter…

In case you missed it, I really am quite a nerd for it, I’ve seen the films countless times, read the books equal amounts and have gathered quite a collection (some may say shrine) of things. Oh and I also have a tattoo… so yeah, big fan.

Anyway, for the third time I trekked off to the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio Tour, this time with my mum.

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As per, the tour was amazing, I had last been 2 years previous and in that time they had added quite a lot, which I was very impressed about. Obviously they added the Forbidden Forest (which is the reason I need to return), they added a table near Hagrids hut which was designed to be ‘forced perspective’ so the person at the front looked huge (like Hagrid), near the Quidditch bit there was the chance to ‘summon’ a broom by saying ‘up!’ (I loved that), there were loads more costumes out on display, like Slughorn’s dressing gown, and….THEY OPENED PRIVET DRIVE!

Here are some geeky photos.

It was sooooo good! The best moment though:

We were in the room with all the wands, just before the gift shop. The man working there challenged me to name an actor he couldn’t find in the wand room. I said Rhys Ifans, and he found it straight away. My mum then let slip that I was a huge fan (thanks mum) and he started to challenge me to see what I could tell him about the actors. After getting all the questions right (oh yeah), we then talked some more about the films, how the books are better and generally about how amazing HP is. He then reached behind his ‘station’ and pulled out a bag, he said not to show any of the children, because what he gave me was one of the ACTUAL letters used in the first film in the scene where they all come out of the chimney. I was beside myself. It just made the whole day even more amazing, and I can’t thank him enough! 

We finished the tour at about half 6 and we had one of those crystalising moments that due to the long journey to get to the tour and back, being on our feet for nearly 4 hours and generally being tired, we decided it was best to have a quick meal at the Travelodge restaurant and back to bed *insert laughing emoji*.

Day 2!

We kicked off the second day by having a delicious breakfast at a café on Drury Lane called, funnily enough, Drury 188-189. We both had eggs, mine scrambled, mum’s poached, both tasted great.

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Next stop – shopping! We made our way to Oxford Circus on the tube and our first stop was of course Hamleys, on the top floor. Why the top floor? Well, it’s only filled with Harry Potter stuff! (same stuff as the tour but cheaper)

My haul included (some stuff came from the tour):

  • A Hufflepuff flag
  • Two cute postcards
  • A pymgy puff keyring
  • Newt Scamander’s briefcase keyring
  • A quill pen
  • A greetings card with a picture of Voldermort that says “you’re my number 1 Horcrux”
  • A mini cauldron
  • A figurine of Fawkes the Phoenix

After perusing around the shops, the next stop was for cocktails! But these weren’t just any cocktails, oh no, I had ALCOHOLIC BUTTER BEER! This was found at a bar called the Blind Pig in Soho, and it wasn’t easy to find, I’ll tell you that! We found exactly where it was on the street, expect we could only see a restaurant called Social Housing… nearly defeated, my mum saw a door to the right of the restaurant with a metal bust of a pig…so, we hesitantly pushed the door open, walked down the dimly lit corridor and found some stairs, we figured we’d go up and sure enough a man was there to greet us who confirmed it was indeed the Blind Pig!

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For something that had scotch, beer, butterscotch, thyme and egg whites in, it was surprisingly very good! There was a whole book of different cocktails all based on different children’s books – you had Chronicle’s of Narnia, Peter Pan and of course Harry Potter 🙂

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Next it was time for lunch, and for this we went back to Covent Garden, down in Neals Yard, to a place called Home Slice. If you’ve never been there before…you need to!

One pizza cost £20 and it’s literally the size of the table. You get to choose from two toppings to have a half and half pizza, we chose pork belly with crackling and veg on one half and rocket, salami and Parmesan on the other – delish!!

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I’d definitely recommend everyone to go there!

After eating our body weight in pizza, we walked around the Covent Garden market, one of my favourite places in London, and then made our way back to the train station.

So there you have it, the story of when my mum and I went to London to do all things Harry Potter and eat great food! It was bloody brilliant – as Ron would say. 

Leeds.

We trekked up north for 3 days to finally experience the penguin feeding that I gave Sam for his Christmas present. The feeding was at Harewood House, in between Harrogate and Leeds, and we chose to stay in Leeds as there was ‘more going on’, as my parents put it.

Well, I’m very glad we did!

Where we stayed

My parents were lovely and gave us money towards a hotel and we treated ourselves to a stay at the Hilton.

Normally we just stay in a Travelodge or Premier Inn, and I have to say that the Hilton really was no different inside our room than those two. But the interior of the hotel was lovely, and the breakfast was lush! They had pancakes!

It was also very central and in a perfect location for us to walk anywhere within the city.

leeds map

Where we ate/drank

Our first stop on the Friday was just behind our hotel at a place called the Candlebar (the huge tower) for a swift pint. Let me just start by saying that Leeds has amazing beer, loads of local brews, lots of variety and great tasting!

After Candlebar we went to Archie’s Bar and Kitchen for more beer and a very tasty stonebaked pizza. We went here with my Auntie and cousins and had a fab time!

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On the Saturday we went to a Brew Dog a little way out of the city, it was called BrewDog North Street and it was pretty darn awesome. 3 words… beer and shuffleboard.

So as it was a Brew Dog there was plenty of beer to choose from, and I had this really fruity tasting beer called Elvis Juice which was divine! And then for the second night running we had stone baked pizza, I think this was one my fav.

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And what made this Brew Dog even more special, as I mentioned above, it has shuffleboard, yes shuffleboard. And vintage arcades.

I won shuffleboard (the beer helped) and Sam won arcades. 1-1.

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Where we went

Friday was just beer and pizza (which I’m totally not complaining about) and then watching 2 episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race in our hotel bed. We know how to live.

Saturday was jam packed! We started off our day by strolling to the Corn Exchange to browse in its selection of wonderful vintage shops and boutiques. First we popped into a shop called The Great Yorkshire Shop  and picked up some gorgeous smelling dark hot chocolate and an A4 print of cute illustrations of the tourist spots in Leeds. Then we went to THE BEST SHOP EVER called Giant Kitten where I bought a duck print dress…yes, that’s right. (oh, I love ducks)

The till was also made out of lego…

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After that we went to the Royal Armouries Museum which was really cool and free! Don’t you just love a freebie. Then we drove up to Harewood House to do what Sam had been waiting 4 months for…to feed penguins! Hungry little fellas they were!

That was an awesome experience, and the look on Sam’s face was priceless. I would definitely recommend going, with the feeding ticket you also get to look around the ground floor of the house, which is stunning, and the grounds are to die for. They have acres of beautiful scenery and various owls/birds to look at.

Sunday we spent the afternoon at my aunties for a top notch Sunday lunch!

I love Leeds!

It’s one of my new favourite places. I had such an amazing time exploring the city, discovering little shops, walking by the canal and sampling the great food and beer.

And there is still so much more to explore – definitely going to book a trip back!

 

 

Home Sweet Home, Manchester.

I’m just gonna start by saying that after a 6 hour, traffic jammed, going-the-wrong-way-round-Manchester’s-ring-road, kind of journey…we would have been happy to eat anywhere!

BUT, I am so happy we chose Home Sweet Home because it was bloody fab!

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This recommended to me by a friend who found a review of it on What Olivia Did. It is a modern and sleek restaurant and bar with American style food.

We went on a Friday night and got seated straight away (win) and I picked the Chicken in a ‘Basket’ straight away, while Sam had Pulled Pork Pile Up.

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It was the perfect amount of food and by god that chicken was the tastiest, most moist chicken I have eaten!

And then we shared a dessert which was a warm cookie, nutella, vanilla ice cream, crushed hazelnuts and toasted marshmallows. MMMM!

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It was such an amazing meal to start off a lovely time in Manchester where we watched Russell Howard. I wish I could tell you more about Manchester, but the aforementioned traffic made us quite late and we just grabbed food before the gig and then just spent a few hours at the Trafford Centre before driving home!

Trafford Centre was awesome though – did you know there was a LEGOLAND there?!

Rating: a definite 5/5

Farmyard, St Benedicts.

I always go out for a meal for my birthday, and this year I wanted to make a point of going somewhere I hadn’t been before. And since talking to people I have realised that’s A LOT of places in Norwich!

We were walking down one of my favourite roads (St Benedicts) and stopped mid walk to look at a menu for a new restaurant we noticed. The food sounded amazing, plenty of choice and lots of meat – just what we like.

Farmyard (that has only been open for 6 weeks) offers some lovely dishes which quite literally you’d associate with a farm. It’s modern menu allows you to create your own dish with a choice of main and then many mouth-watering extras to choose from.

These were our fab choices:

Starters

Main

Dessert

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Farmyard chocolate bar, Columbian 65%, salted caramel, peanut

 

I literally couldn’t fault the food. The gravy that was in my pie was to die for, I even asked the waitress what was in it (she didn’t know though, boo) and that chocolate bar was delicious – Sam and I had bets as to whether it was literally a chocolate bar, like a KitKat on a plate or something.

The restaurant itself has a really cool vibe, modern furnishings but with funky copper wire lights and a huge, vibrant mural on one of the walls. It was a good sized place, nice spaced out tables and a kitchen you could see into, which I always love.

A couple of bad points (but not even really that bad); it was nice being able to choose your own extras but they obviously cost and if you want to have a decent plate of food you needed two sides which were about £4 each :/ The ‘organic leaves’ were probably just 1/4 of a bag of salad leaves from Tesco, nice but not £3.

These are just worth noting:

  • there’s very little for vegetarians
  • you will have to google a lot of the menu, for example I had labnah and dukkah and had to google what they were. I know you can ask the waiters but it just delays it if you get told what they are and don’t like it and have to go back to square one
  • if you say it’s your birthday you get a free glass of champagne (pity I don’t drink it!)

Overall rating: 4.5/5

 

Eaton Park Café.

It was a crisp Sunday morning and me and Sam fancied a walk so we went to have a wander around our local Eaton Park.

I love Eaton Park because it has a cute little boating lake, lovely walks, a sweet little railway and the magnificent bandstand.

This time we stumbled across the café we always knew was there and grabbed a bacon sandwich and a hot chocolate. Continue reading