Thursday, 12 December 2019

[GIFTED] Christmas Gifting With Sous Chef

[GIFTED] Post contains gifted products from Sous Chef, however all views and opinions are my own.

As some of you may know, there are very few things I enjoy more in the world than food, and so when Sous Chef offered to send me some gifts to review from their Christmas ranges, I was more than happy to comply. There's absolutely nothing better than Christmas food, and there's definitely something that feel forbidden about eating the fancy stuff before Christmas Eve (my mum is cringing thinking about me taking them out the cupboards with little to no regard, I'm sure) and so I'm here to talk you through what I'd recommend from the Sous Chef Gift Collection.

Whilst I really wanted to be selfish when it came to my picks, it really didn't seem fair, and so I did go for a mixture of things that I could share with Josh and his mum. Having said that, my first pick was something that definitely didn't get shared around, and that was Shluckwerder Edel Marzipan with Dark Chocolate (£1.49). I'm well aware that to many people this sounds like actual hell, but to me this was the dream. Was it amazing? Yes. Did I eat the whole bar in one single sitting? Wouldn't like to comment on that one. I will say though it's very rich, so if you can't handle quite as much sickly sweet in one sitting, then maybe opt for just a piece at a time.

I also opted for the Buttermilk Christmas Cracker (£4.89) which had a selection of clotted cream fudge, mince pie flavoured fudge and caramel sea salt. This was a little divisive, the sea salt was far too salty for Josh but I felt like it cut through what could have been something sickly sweet for me, both Josh and his mum liked the Clotted Cream but it just wasn't for me, and it was quickly decided that the Mince Pie fudge actually tasted a lot like birthday cake icing, but I really wasn't mad about it. Both the inside and outside packaging for the fudge was beautiful, and I think it would make a really lovely gift for someone who might typically be a little hard to buy for.

The final products that I opted for were Love Cocoa's Assorted Christmas Collection, and also their Boozy Collection (£9.31 for a box of eight truffles). Though nothing let this parcel down, these were definitely the unanimous hit; with beautiful packaging, beautifully made truffles and just a wow factor that you want when you're buying chocolate as a present. We sampled everything from prossecco truffles, right through to the elephant in the room (photo?) the brussel sprout truffles. Though they might look unappealing, these are actually milk chocolate filled with an orange centre and they were some of our favourites out of both boxes, but if you want to put your kids off eating the last one? The way they look is definitely effective.

All in all, for fancy Christmas food at a price that really isn't going to break the bank as much as you think, Sous Chef could be a fantastic option, just make sure you hide them away so they don't get stuck in the do-not-touch-until-Christmas cupboard! Their express delivery is running right up until December 23rd for Christmas Eve delivery, and so if you're cutting it fine, keep them in mind!

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Liverpool's Baltic Market

I have to admit that when it comes to Liverpool, I'm pretty lazy. I stick to what I know, what I like and, for the most part, the middle of town because I never think about walking further out if I can avoid it. Though I have visited the infamous Baltic Market before, it's usually been in the day with my brother who works in Liverpool, rather than with my friends. A few weeks ago, though, we were in Liverpool anyway and trying to find a food place that we all agreed on; cue the ridiculous amount of choice that The Baltic Market has to offer. We found ourselves there and ready to eat pretty much anything we could lay our hands on, and I definitely wasn't disappointed.

Vendors within the market do change pretty regularly, but when we went our offerings were from Chop! Chop!, Lunya, Pattersons, Hafla Hafla, Little Furnace, Caribou Poutine, Bacaro and Fritto, most of which already have huge followings within the city. Now, I will say, we weren't very adventurous in picking our food; but we'd been to Pattersons to do our original review two days earlier and it'd been playing on our minds since, so me and Josh opted for some of their Chicken Strippers (£4.95). Dan, who originally raved about Pattersons so much that we went, came with us and also recommended Caribou Poutine which I hadn't been to since the branch opened in the city centre and so we also opted for Original Poutine with meat gravy and fried onions (£5).

The chicken here was every bit as good as the chicken we had in the bigger restaurant a few days earlier, and we scoffed that down really quickly - I have to say though, that it was the poutine that was the star of the show for me. Melty, squeaky cheese with thick, herby gravy on soggy fries with more crispy onions than it should ever be okay to eat? Definitely count me in for that again. This is the type of meal that you think about and crave for days after, and even writing this now I'm wondering when I can next fit time in to go and grab another portion. We shared the chicken and poutine and it was more than enough food, and so for £9.95 we had a whole meal between us. The bar is a little more expensive than I'd like, but I feel like it evens out somewhere around moderate however you look at it.

I'm also a sucker for dessert and so when I saw that they had The Midnight Delivery, I was more than willing to try some desserts. Josh and I are the kind of couple that like to get two things we really want and then split them because we're both so indecisive and so we ended up with Hot Kinder Cookie Dough (£6.50) and Salted Caramel Filled Churros with milk and white chocolate drizzle. (£7.50). Did we spent more on our desserts than we did on our main meal? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Absolutely. The Kinder Cookie Dough was a little too sweet for me, but was definitely Josh's favourite of the two desserts, and we all agreed that the Churros with it's cinnamon outside and sweet, rich inside were a general, overall winner. I'm actually really sad that I'm not in the Uber area for The Midnight Delivery, but it definitely is probably a good thing for my bank balance.

Overall I really love the atmosphere of The Baltic Market, and I think it's really nice to have a place essentially on your doorstep that you could create a different meal within every single time that you went (within reason). If you've ever been to The Baltic Market, I'd love to know what you'd recommend for next time!

Sammy xo.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Lush Christmas Gifting Event

[PRESS EVENT] This post is discussing an event I was invited to, and features gifted products, however all views are my own. Please view my disclaimer for more information.

There's a real place in my heart for Lush events, the Halloween launch in Chester Lush was one of the first blogging events I ever remember going to. So, when Katy invited me to go to Liverpool Lush for their Christmas gifting event, I jumped at the chance to be back at some of my favourite events of all time. Luckily this time, because he's currently doing my photography, I could take Josh and so we got to spend a night last week smelling bath bombs, chatting with some old (and new) friends and just generally getting into the Christmas spirit. I have to say it's been a while since I've kept up with Lush releases or even actually been in the new Liverpool Lush store, and so it was definitely nice to see what they're offering for Christmas 2019.

The event started with us getting a rundown of the perfume consultation that Liverpool offer, and though the perfume at Lush really isn't the thing that catches my eye for the most part, it was quite interesting that you can go in and give an essence of the person that you want to buy for via answering some questions and come out with the perfect scent. We got to discuss how the consultations work, how you can go about picking out your own scent, and we got to smell some of the iconic fragrances such as Lord of Misrule, Rose Jam and American Cream. We also got to see the black label range of fragrances that Liverpool Lush offer, and it's definitely something I plan on looking at a little more in the coming months when I get the time to revisit to do so.

The ceiling of the Tales Of Bath treatment room

A really cool part of this event, however, was that we also got to visit the spa as nobody was booked in and so we weren't going to interrupt their treatment. The spa is honestly one of the coolest things that I've seen in a long while; set out like a comfy kitchen, you can sit and have your consultation to make sure that you're getting the best of your treatment and then head into the consultation room itself. We got to go and see the consultation rooms for both The Comforter and Tales of Bath and truly, if I had £115 to spare I'd be booking Tales of Bath just to relax in a room that pretty! I don't, however, though I am considering booking in for The Energiser in the new year, because I can definitely spare £45 to relax and get more motivated. The staff took us through a good few of the treatments, let us smell the spa exclusive products and then sent us on our merry way feeling a lot more relaxed just from being in the space (which is sound proofed so you can't hear the noise from the rest of the store, by the way!)

Finally, we got to see the Christmas floor. That's right, currently the top floor of Lush Liverpool is nothing but Christmas products, and I'm absolutely living for it. Not only are the products all fantastic, but we got to speak through their environmentally friendly changes (including recycling their bottles into their knot wraps, as well as saving on water waste by changing demos to their app and on screens available within the store) and also got to see some knot wrap demonstrations. When we had talked through all of the products, we got to pick some to take home for ourselves and so I picked Snow Fairy bath bomb for Josh's sister, Yog Nog Shower Cream and Snowflake Body Lotion (potentially reviews to come if I like them!) and we had them knot wrapped for us with new personalised tags that you can opt for in the store if you're buying from Liverpool.

All in all the event was great fun and I actually felt like I'd come away knowing much more about Lush, so good work, Katy! Also if you've ever been to the Lush Spa let me know if it's work me dropping that amount of cash on a treatment because I really do want to.

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

[AD] Manchester Challenge - The Ultimate Date Night

[AD] Post written in collaboration with, and spending money provided by,

Manchester isn’t too far away from home for me but it’s somewhere I don’t really tend to head to often. That said, when I was offered the chance to go and write a post about how to spend a date night in Manchester (and if you're headed yourself from further away, there's some great hotels and serviced apartments in Manchester), I jumped at the chance to explore with Josh and see just what the city has to offer that we might have skipped over in past trips. So, with no real plan but food and cool things, we head off on a Monday afternoon to see what gems that we could stumble upon in the city. The coach to the city took us about 40 minutes and so our starting point was Manchester coach station, just for reference.

1st stop - Salt and Pepper, Arndale Market

We initially intended to head to Northern Soul Grilled Cheese, however it was closed for training across all the branches, and so we just decided to wander and see what took our fancy. Luckily for us, literally just across the road was The Armadale Market and just inside the door a smell hit us in the face and had us straight into the queue - Salt and Pepper. This tiny little booth offers all variations of salt and pepper food, and we opted for crispy chicken flatbreads and the classic salt and pepper chips. The flatbreads were subtle, but tasty and filling (plus 2 for £6 which definitely isn’t something to stick your nose up at) and crinkle cut salt and pepper chips are a game changer and a definite highlight. With the flatbreads coming as two in a portion and a portion of chips easily shared, lunch came to just £9 for the both of us. 

2nd Stop - Manchester Markets, and a general wander

We got a little caught up in the beauty of the Christmas markets in the city centre and so we went for a quick walk through them and to see if we could stumble upon anywhere else we fancied visiting. We didn’t, but there’s plenty of cool little places to see on the way to the town hall in Manchester, and there’s ton of cute little Instagram spots, so definitely worth the ten minute walk. After a few google searches, we quickly decided on destination number 3. 

3rd Stop - NQ64

This was one of my favourite parts of the whole day, it’s a little bar downstairs that looks like very little from the outside, but inside it’s a neon wonderland of graffitied tables, and so many old school arcade machines. I got an Irn Bru, Josh got a Camden Pills as recommended by the girl working on the bar, and we got 15 tokens between us. Including the tokens we spent just over £12 and lost an hour to playing shooting games, bad Simpson’s arcade games, and watching countless rounds of Mario Kart. This is a little hidden gem and it’s really affordable for what it is, and so if you want to get competitive or old school gaming is your thing, it’s definitely worth the visit. 

4th Stop - Crazy Pedro’s

After quickly nipping to Outhouse (possibly the most famous street art location in Manchester) and it’s surrounding graffiti spots, we headed back to NQ64, and then straight next door to Crazy Pedro’s for pizza. As it was happy hour between 5 and 9pm, we grabbed a cocktail each (Candy Skull Collins for me, and Ped’s Meds for Josh) and ordered four slices of pizza at just £2 each. We went for a mix of classic and a little more unusual; Can’t Cook, Won’t Cluck was a vegan pizza with potato waffles, vegan chicken, vegan cheese and tomato sauce (great taste, very weird texture), and Chippy Tea which was mushy peas, sausage, chips and curry sauce (mushy peas on a pizza is... an experience). Looking for something more classic? The Margherita and Pepperoni were well worth their £2 per slice price, and with 2 slices and a cocktail each, we paid just £18. 

5th Stop - Central Perk

You may all know that me and Josh can’t function long without coffee, and so the next stop fit nicely - with Josh remembering Manchester Primark has a Central Perk inside, and me needing caffeine. This is actual a really lovely little coffee shop, with it’s false exterior nestled in the back of the busy first floor of the huge Primark. The infamous sofa is outside if you want a photo opp, and inside there’s surprisingly nice coffee available; for a Vanilla Frappe and a Mocha we spent just over £7, and sitting in the cafe was definitely a lovely way to lose some time just people watching.

6th Stop - Manchester Cathedral Fountains, the bridge behind The Lowry Hotel

Reinvigorated we decided to head down and see some of the bits of Manchester that we, as a couple, love. Our first trip away together after we got together was Manchester, and we fell in love with the dancing water fountains with their coloured lights opposite the Manchester Cathedral. Last time we visited we couldn’t get a good picture because of the sheer amount of people there, but this time the whole place was ours and so we took some photos before heading off to the Bridge behind The Lowry Hotel, another favourite spot of ours with some beautiful views across the canal. Definitely a nice spot if you have some time to wander there.

7th Stop - The Liar’s Club

Luckily for us when we came off the bridge we were actually facing a bar we’d talked about visiting but didn’t know if we’d actually have time to go to - The Liar’s Club. This is a beautiful downstairs Tiki Bar which is definitely my favourite place we visited the whole day. The atmosphere is so, so friendly, the bar staff were so happy to help us pick drinks and the extensive list of rums is definitely something to behold. I opted for a TLC cocktail and Josh opted for Captain’s Grog and one of the nice things here is that their menu is helpfully laid out from less alcohol options to more, which is definitely good when one of you (me) can’t handle your rum that well, and the other one of you (Josh) is nothing short of a rum connoisseur. This is definitely the type of bar that you want to take your friends to, and it’s easy to see why it’s gaining more and more popularity. We also managed to hit happy hour here, and two cocktails of this calibre for £10 is definitely a bargain that can’t be sniffed at.

8th Stop - Yates

If you come in on the coach pretty much the first sight you see, and pretty much the last sight that you see when leaving, is Yates - and something about the sight of aYates just makes you feel at home wherever you are. We stopped in here for a quick Diet Coke for me, and a quick rum for Josh whilst we waited for our coach.

The total price of our date came to just over £65, and I don't really think that's something you can complain about - Manchester has plenty to do, see and eat and so why not try it for your next date night?

Sammy xo.
Most, if not all, photos taken by Josh

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Pattersons Baker House Review

When you live in or around Liverpool there are certain places that everyone seems to have been to except you, and you just sort of never get around to changing that. For me and Josh, at least for the past year or so, this seemed to be Pattersons. People continuously told us how good it was, we always said we would try it, but it sort of fell by the wayside and we never actually got around to going. So, when we decided on a whim with Ruby last week that we wanted to go for food and we couldn't decide where we should go? We finally bit the bullet and made our way to Pattersons Baker House. Though Gradwell Street is dubbed their OG, and it's definitely the branch that people always rave about, there's something really charming about the newer addition to the family that just makes it a lovely place to grab a bite with friends.

Walking in this is the perfect mix between a cool restaurant and a dive bar, it's unpretentious and welcoming, with off kilter picture frames, beatles caricatures and friends playing on the TVs dotted around the spacious bar. It's strangely beautiful decorated, with metal tiles making a decorative ceiling and wood panelling all through the area towards the toilet. When you're inside, you could easily forget you're in one of the busiest streets in Liverpool, it's cosy, aesthetically pleasing and it just generally feels like a pleasant place to be. One of the highlights of the restaurant for me is that the drinks menu really feels like one from a takeaway, with Rio, Irn Bru, Tizer and more gracing it's pages. Little touches like this just makes the whole restaurant feel like an upmarket takeaway, and it's charming in it's own little way.

For food we felt a little overwhelmed looking at a menu with so many choices, and so we opted for the Ultimate Sharer (£15.95), containing Chicken Strippers, Mac 'n' Cheese Bites, Cajun Halloumi Fingers, Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings, Coleslaw and Onion Wings. We then asked the guy taking our order what he would recommend and so added 250g of Pattersons Famous Fried Chicken (£5.95) and Piggy Smalls Loaded Curly Fries (£5.45) which were curly fries with cheese, bacon and BBQ pulled pork. We weren't really sure how much food was going to be enough food, so we decided to run with this and then see if we needed to order more afterwards between the three of us, but it turned out to be more than enough to go around.

The food is exactly the type of comfort food that you want it to be, it's tasty, filling and just all round good. The highlights for me were definitely the loaded curly fries and salt and pepper wings, but there was genuinely nothing that I tried that I didn't like. For a restaurant that focuses primarily on their famous fried chicken, it doesn't let down the quality of the rest of the sides; it's all tasty, wholesome and beautifully presented. What I would say, and this is really nobody's fault but our own, is that we really didn't make the most of the menu, but it's honestly just made us want to go back. Every single piece of chicken was as tender and (for want of a better word) moist as the next, every piece of food had a new flavour that the restaurant has perfected, and it comes together to make a really nice meal, for a really affordable price.

Overall, for the food and drinks we got (3 soft drinks) came to £33, and just over a tenner for an entire meal in Liverpool is definitely nothing to turn your nose up at. Throw in friendly staff, the food being genuinely fantastic, great decor and a good choice of drinks? It's easy to see how Pattersons have such a cult following, they've definitely created such a special thing with what they have.

If you've been to Pattersons I'd love to know what you'd recommend for next time!

Sammy xo.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Liverpool River Of Light

Liverpool is beautiful at all times, I will maintain this point until I die, but this week I found the time to go with Josh (all photos in this post by him by the way, because he's a legend) to the River Of Light Festival, and it gave the city a whole new edge. The River of Light is essentially a collection of artwork based on, you guessed it, lights all around the city that you can visit, play in and interact with - these are predominantly placed across the docks, but there's some further into the city, too. It's freezing, especially being so close to the River, but it's also good work, you'll see some beautiful artwork and it's definitely worth seeing Liverpool in a whole new light (pun intended).


Run Beyond

I'm fairly sure that Josh and I managed to see all of the installations on offer, but the one we started at was one that we could actually see on our side of the water, Spiders. From our side of the water we can see the lights on the Cunard building, but they just look like cubes flashing, so I was really intrigued to see that when you get closer these are actually each individual spiders running across the windows of the building to music. This was one of my favourite installations of the whole day, and though we didn't stay for the light show on the Liver Buildings (Flight) because we'd seen it from Woodside Food Village the week earlier, you can hit both in one go on some of the most iconic buildings that Liverpool has to offer.

There were also some beautiful spots to take pictures; between the giant rabbits of Intrude in Exchange flags, or in some of Josh's favourite spaces of the whole night; Whole Hole, a continuous moving tunnel of white lights you can walk through, and Submergence, a beautiful room full of dropping coloured lights that change and transform under the music in the room. We spent a long time at all three of these, just taking different pictures, playing around with the lights in Submergence, and watching other people take photographs in Whole Hole. Though we didn't stop to take a photo at them, there's also a beautiful set of lit up wings on the top of the steps by Chavasse Park called Flock, which is a beautiful take on the famous 'For All The Liver Birds' graffiti that's so popular in The Baltic Triangle.


Globoscope/Whole Hole

One of the surprising pieces that we both really enjoyed was Globoscope, set in the beautiful gardens of Liverpool Parish Church. This was filled with white balls of light that lit and dimmed to loud music that was really lovely to watch and though it seemed completely out of place in a church garden, I almost think this added to the experience. We've seen the light bench in Liverpool One a few times before this and it's literally just a lit up bench, we really wanted to stop here and take a picture but there was a queue of people waiting to do just that and so we skipped ahead, similarly Cetus (depicting poetry using light under water, set to music) and Portal (a geometric show projected onto the Albert Dock) were both beautiful pieces, but we seemed to hit them in the middle of a cycle and so head off without seeing the whole of them.

Intrude/The Liver Buildings

A joint favourite, and probably the piece that we spent the most time looking at, was Run Beyond which was set at the centre of the Albert Dock, depicting a man running across the water and ending in a forward roll, each light lit up individually so it looked the figure was running, and then all lit up together to make a beautiful piece in itself. The location of this made it beyond magical, and overall I would definitely recommend this. If I have one piece of criticism, I would say that Submergence is set inside and there seems to be no limit on people in the room, which means that when we went it was very very busy, and very difficult to see the whole piece, though it was nice to see the photographs other people were taking in there.

If you are headed to The Liverpool River Of Light I'd love to see your photos so send them to me on twitter, and if you haven't been yet you still have a few night left as this finishes tomorrow (November 9th 2019) and light installations are available to view between 5pm and 10pm!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The World's Most Convoluted Love Story

When I was a teenager there was this guy with a bright coloured fringe that used to do the opposite paper round to mine, and without fail on a Wednesday when I was putting leaflets into 200 papers I’d see him. Every single week he would jump off the wall of the house next to me onto my path and every single week it would shit me up and he’d laugh and wave and I’d probably scowl and wave back because that’s the type of person that I am. He was on my radar as a friend of friends but after we stopped doing our paper rounds, I mostly forgot he existed until we were in our twenties and he matched with me on tinder. Then I got a girlfriend. Then I broke up with said girlfriend and we matched on tinder again. Then I got back with said girlfriend. Then said girlfriend and I broke up, again. We matched on tinder again, three separate times because he kept deleting the app (or unmatching me because I wasn’t funny enough, jury’s still out).

Then I started drinking in a new pub and I’d see him there and we’d share a tinder message exchange of ‘Is that you by the bar?’ ‘I can’t see you who are you with.’ ‘I’m in the back booth.’ There’d be an awkward wave and we’d move on with our lives - though I did ask him to five separate pub quizzes in one message once and he never replied, I’m not bitter though. Then one night he was in the right place at the entirely wrong time and came over to chat to me whilst I sat with two people I really didn’t want to be there with, then I saw him the next night and introduced him to my friends, then it quickly became me going to that certain pub because I knew he’d be there but we weren’t brave enough to actually hang out. Then I started asking him to plans outside that pub, and in 3 short weeks I had myself a best friend. We spent 10 months growing together, there was new jobs and pushing each other to start the things we wanted to do but never got around to, there were a lot of those pub quizzes he never replied to my messages about, there was some casual kissing, there was a lot of meeting each other’s friends.

I’m going to be honest, I really didn’t think 2019 was going to be my year. I threw myself into it by working a lot, by not doing much other than going to the pub, by crying even more than I do now. He was there every step of the way, we spent every single night walking round our (very small) town centre and chatting, or drinking in the pub, or going on late night tesco trips with my best friend. Slowly but surely, we got closer and to literally nobody’s surprise except my own, he told me he wanted this to go somewhere, and five months later it is somewhere, it’s so good. I take the piss out of him every single day but he is honestly one of the best things to come into my life. He’s pushed me to be a better person, he makes sure I get out of bed to at least walk to the shop even when it feels like it’s the last thing I want to do, he appreciates me for everything that I am, he steals my clothes and eats my snacks, but I’ll let him off with those ones. 

It’s been a lot of time to get here (ask my group chat, they’ll tell you just how long) and it’s a place I never thought I’d be lucky enough to be. I’m so grateful to be with someone who makes sure I make time to do things I want to, not just things I need to, I’m so grateful to have someone who pushes me every day to be the person I want to be, I’m so grateful he finishes the last bits of my food when I inevitably don’t finish a meal. It might have taken nearly a year (or 9, depending on how you look at it) but we got here, finally. It's felt like the world's most convoluted love story, and I'm sure my friends will back us up on how long it seemed to take, but I'm truly grateful for every single step. Plus he's a boss photographer, and he pushed me to make sure I actually did start my blog again (and he's put up with every meltdown about it since).

How did you meet your partner? I'm really nosy and want the stories!

Sammy xo.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Cowfish Smokehouse At Woodside Ferry Village Review

Living on The Wirral comes with its perks - the biggest perk is, honestly, how close to Liverpool and Chester we are, both of which are fantastic for food. When it comes to food on our doorstep though? The options can be a bit lacking, that was - until Woodside Ferry Village came along. Before we even get to the food, I need to say that the Ferry Village is using the hashtag #foodwithaview and it's definitely not hard to see why. Me and Josh walk past the building most nights, and with it's amazing view of Liverpool's skyline and you being in the building of the iconic ferry across the Mersey, it's not hard to see why Josh always says it's the spot he'd pick if he was showing someone Liverpool and they'd never seen it before. But, location isn't everything when it comes to a restaurant, and so let's get to the bit you actually want to hear about; the food. By the way; typically, after specifically picking a place with multiple vendors to ensure everyone got something they wanted without compromise, we all ended up eating at Cowfish Smokehouse anyway, which honestly, is very on brand for this friendship group.

We sat upstairs with a beautiful view of the Liverpool skyline, it was fairly busy for a Friday night, but definitely not packed, and upstairs seemed the logical place to sit as the only vendor up there is The Tipsy Duck bar, which gave us time to chat and get drinks before knuckling down and deciding what we wanted. Ruby opted for a mocktail which they were trialling for launch the day after and so they didn't charge her, and a lager top and a pint of Diet Coke came to £7.30 - not cheap for our area, but pretty fair for restaurant pricing. After a brief catch up and some photographs, we head downstairs to check the vendors out and though there are some great vendors there at the moment (Sukothai, The Refreshment Rooms, Caffe Cream, and Slow Low and Dough) we all opted for Cowfish Smokehouse.

The Notorious P.I.G

I'm entirely sure Ruby opted for the Notorious P.I.G (£8) purely for the name, but this is a Bratwurst in a New York Roll topped with 8 hour oak smoked pulled pork, texan slaw, onions and BBQ sauce, which she swapped out for mustard. Ruby said this was amazing, and the general consensus between those who had the slaw (aka. not me) was that this was a real big highlight. There was a lot to eat here and it was really messy, but I have to admit that it looked incredible. Mine was definitely the most manageable meal of the night which was The Peggy Sue (£9), a red seeded beetroot brioche bun, Southern Fried Chicken and Halloumi, slaw, tomato, lettuce and mayo. I have a real thing about soggy vegetables and so opted to leave the salad and the slaw off, which was absolutely no problem, and this was great tasting, though definitely not the most exciting meal of the night. The red brioche bun definitely looked cool in photos, but if I'd have eaten it in the dark I definitely wouldn't have identified it as beetroot, so if you're not a big fan, don't let that put you off, and the chicken was moist inside and crispy outside, with that bite of salty halloumi really adding to the flavour overall.

The Peggy Sue (front) and The Pitmaster (back)

Josh went for the Pitmaster (£9.50) which was a seeded black charcoal bun, an Oak Smoked Aberdeen Angus burger, slaw, lettuce, tomato, 12 hour smoked brisket, smoked bacon and melted cheddar, aka. a lot of food on one plate. For me, the brisket on this burger was the highlight of the entire meal, it melt in your mouth, it's taste was smokey without being overwhelming, and though everything we had was fantastic, it was just definitely the unexpected star of the show. The burger itself was tender and fell apart, and the bacon was fantastic, but did get lost underneath the brisket a little for me, personally. We also got two baskets of cheesy fries (£4 or £2.50 when added to a meal) which were great, though eat them fast or that cheese sauce does get a bit claggy. Realistically, we ordered way, way too much food, and we did manage to finish nearly all of it, but it's worth knowing that the portions are definitely big enough to share, especially the sides.

Inside The Pitmaster

We wanted to go back for the weirdest offering on the menu, the Willy Wonka Rainbow Bagel (£9) which consists of an Aberdeen Angus patty, melted cheddar, popping candy, marshmallow, a mini Wonka bar and a candy cane skewer on a rainbow bagel purely because it sounded appalling and I knew I'd probably like it, but despite opening hours saying vendors serve until 9pm, the stall did tell us they stopped serving at 8:30 and so do bear in mind that some vendors might close earlier, and take that into account when you're looking to go, especially if there's one vendor in particular you really want to eat at. Overall though? The food is well priced, and beyond good quality, the view is worth it alone and it's definitely nice to have something better than a McDonalds right on our doorstep.

The view (photo by @joshparkersnaps)

If you've been to any of the vendors let me know if the food was good, I'm planning another trip and so I'm definitely looking at what to hit next.

Sammy xo.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Museum Of The Moon

There's very few things that I love more in the world than space, I like to look at the stars, I like it when people can tell me the constellations, I love reading about the moon - and so, when Josh asked me if I wanted to go to the Museum Of The Moon in Birkenhead Town Hall this week, I jumped at the chance. For those of you that don't know, Museum Of The Moon consists of a number of touring moons, all of which are pieces by UK artist Luke Jerram. I'm going to quote the next bit straight from the site so I don't miss anything integral;

'Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface.'

I'm going to start this honestly and say this is one of the coolest things that I've been to see. Nestled in a back room on the third floor of Birkenhead Town Hall? There's a huge moon, suspended in the middle of all this ancient wood and cool architecture. This is literally a scaled down moon, which would be incredible anyway, but you can also head round to the back of this to see the dark side of the moon that you would never normally see. Even if you weren't a big fan of learning more about space, the skies and the universe? It's hard not to fall in love with how intricately beautiful this piece is as a whole, pictures do it justice to an extent, but until you've stood in front of it I don't think you can genuinely understand just how fantastic this piece actually is.

I will say, that as beautiful as this is in Birkenhead Town Hall, compared to some of the locations on the tour I do think that this seems a bit underwhelming overall. The intention is for the pieces to be displayed both indoors and outdoors in various places, and I really wish I had been there to see this when it was hung in an abandoned church, or when it was hung over a swimming pool, or even when it was hung in the centre of Liverpool's cathedral. Though the location is never going to let this piece down as such, I definitely think there are going to be locations on the tour that make it even more awe inspiring, and so if you have the chance to see it somewhere amazing? Definitely take the chance and go.

Photograph of me taken by @joshparkersnaps

The moon we saw is one of a few currently touring and so if you want to see one you can see dates here. If you're close enough to Birkenhead to visit it whilst it's here you can book tickets for free to secure a time slot between right now and the day the exhibition finishes, on November 15th (there's also autism and sensory friendly viewing slots available, or for £10 you can attend a yoga class around the moon on Wednesday November 13th). If you go for nothing more than the really cool Instagram pictures, I honestly wouldn't blame you.

If you've been in another location definitely send me your pictures on twitter, because I'm obsessed!

Sammy xo.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Life Burnout

I know that one of the most common themes I see of memes for people my age are the ongoing jokes about how impossible it is to find a work/life balance and honestly, I relate. I constantly want to pick more hours up in work so me and Josh have more money behind us, especially now we're looking at moving out and taking holidays together, and I constantly want to blog more, I want to make sure I see all of my friends and keep up with fun things (because FOMO, am I right?) but the truth is, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I know, as Instagram keeps telling me, I have exactly the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce, but honestly, I think she's got a Bernard's watch of some kind because she doesn't seem to end every night lying in bed with the sheer panic of what needed doing today that hasn't been done flashing through her brain (or she might, but she hides it better, in which case? I feel you, Bey.)

Being an adult is no joke. I should be getting 8 hours of sleep, but also I should be working a decent amount of hours to make sure I can live, I should be doing what I love but at some point? Something's got to give. I definitely don't regret starting Little Fickle back up, it's always been my passion, it's something I love doing and I really, really want to put the effort in it deserves - but in doing so? I've definitely realised just how little time I realistically have spare when trying to keep all of my plates spinning. When I'm working and working on my blog? I'm definitely putting my all in and when I get a chance I have a whole plethora of things to do when I finish my shift or blog work; try and fit a nap in, remember to eat food and find the time to do so, see my boyfriend and my friends. But equally, when I'm not working and I have time for that break and a nap? I find myself filled with the sheer anxiety of what else I could, and should, be doing with that time. It's a constant cycle of working, blogging and slipping into my days off feeling exhausted and guilty.

I know I said something's got to give, but what can? I obviously need and want to work, I want to put my all into Little Fickle like I am, I want to spend time with Josh where I'm not glued to a laptop making sure I keep on top of my emails, I want to see my friends, but every piece of my life really does feel like the piece of a jigsaw puzzle from a completely different box than all of the others. I feel like there's such a push and pull with every single little thing that in pulling one thing to give it my all, I'm pushing something else away, just to swap it back the next day. And the sad thing is? I know most of my friends feel like this too, we're a whole generation of people too guilty to use our free time in the ways that we want. I'm giving as much to my work and my blog as I can, but I can't help but feel there's definitely other things being neglected as a result.

This is massively just a brain dump of how I'm feeling right now in the hopes that somebody out there might feel similarly and I'll feel a little less alone, or that someone somewhere might have cracked some universal equation and can provide me with the solution for what to do, but as it is now (and proving my point) it's nearly 1am writing this and I really, really need to sleep to give my best to the things I have to do tomorrow - maybe between the hordes of washing, hoovering and everything else I have to do after I finish work, I might find time for that nap.

Definitely share with me if you have some tips for making the most of what seems like so little time, and how you keep on top of everything!

Sammy xo.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Frost Burgers Vegan Burger Review

I’m all for doing what you can for the environment where you can, and cutting down on meat products is a huge part of that. Luckily, in Liverpool, more and more meatless options are springing up for us to try, and Frost Burgers is just one of those options that’s quickly becoming a cult favourite. When you really want fast food, but don’t want the meat? Frost is definitely a good go to, with it’s reasonable pricing, plentiful options and food that definitely doesn’t leave you wanting. It’s instagram aesthetic makes you feel like you’re somewhere really up and coming and that’s because, there’s no doubt about it, you definitely are; it might be just a burger joint in Liverpool now, but I have no doubt it’s about to grow into something much bigger, very very fast. 

There’s only a few tables in Frost’s cosy and welcoming restaurant, but if you can take the time to hang around it’s definitely worth it. It’s a very easy order at the till and wait for your food type of deal, and there’s more options than you might imagine. We went for the Bacon Free Burger (£6.95, plus £3.00 to make it a meal) and the G Mayo Chicken (£4.95, plus £3.00 to make it a meal), with the meal add on to add chips, a sauce (both mayo) and a drink each. The G chicken mayo was my choice and, though it’s a lot less like meat than the Cheezburger I’ve had in the past, it’s definitely not a bad option at all. It has a juicy patty, lettuce, cheese and mayo (all vegan) and it’s absolutely belter. Josh opted for the much-more-like-meat option of the Bacon Free Burger and, though it would never be my personal choice, said it would very hard to distinguish it from a similar meat option. 

My standouts though are definitely the chips and the mayo, the mayo is genuinely better than it’s non-vegan counterpart, with an almost sour undertone that definitely adds to the taste. The chips? A skin on, heavily salted choice that rivals 5 Guys any day of the week. I will say that the cola isn’t my personal favourite choice, but there are a ton more drinks options (including shakes) so it’s definitely not a deciding factor in going back or not. Not a burger person? There’s Frost nuggets on the menu, as well as a whole array of desserts including frosty cones, donuts and cookies. The price is, admittedly, slightly higher than the fast food options that I’m typically used to but I will say that it’s worth every extra penny, the food is delicious and fresh, the options are great and you’re doing your bit to help the environment, which is definitely not something to turn your nose up at.

Photos by @joshparkersnaps

Would I recommend Frost Burgers? Any day of the week (as would Josh). It’s great for a quick bite to eat, the food is made fresh and the options are plentiful; the queues for the tables during busy hours are definitely justified, and it’s definitely worth hanging round to get one where you can. Plus, the aesthetic is perfect for instagram photos if you’re waiting for an extra ten minutes. It’s easy to see why Frost has become such a popular choice in Liverpool, and I can see that they’ll be expanding elsewhere any time soon; so definitely get a visit in if you have the chance! 

Where are your favourite places to eat in Liverpool? Have you been to Frost Burgers yet?

Sammy xo. 

Friday, 25 October 2019

Making The Most Of Chester Zoo During The Winter

The thing about the Winter is, let's face it, I don't want to be anywhere that isn't either inside or serving alcohol; but the thing is, I also love the zoo. The zoo doesn't seem the optimal place to go in the winter though - it seems logical that the animals would be inside, there is a lot of open space for wind chill and, in the case of Chester Zoo, it closes a lot earlier than it does in the Summer. Having said that, it can be a great Winter day out if you know how to make the most of it, and luckily I'm here to help with that. So, without further ado, here's how to make the most of Chester Zoo when it comes to the Winter months this year.

Photo; @joshparkersnaps

1: Know what you can see and you can't
With the fire that happened at Chester Zoo in December 2018, the Monsoon Forest exhibition is still closed. It definitely doesn't affect the sheer amount of animals that you can still see, but it might change the route that you want to take if you don't have time to travel around the entirety of the zoo. Make sure you know what you can see, and where, to make the most of your time there. There's also a lot of animals moving exhibit and so make sure that you take the time to check that your favourite is still where you thought it would be.

2: If the animals aren't out, try and find feeding times
It's not always easy to see all animals in the winter because, much like me, they really want to be inside where it's a lot warmer. If you've looked both inside and outside their enclosures and you've seen neither hide nor hair? Make sure to see if they have a feeding time that day. Obviously the feeding times are there to, you know, make sure the animals eat, but it does also draw them out to an area where you'll likely be able to see them, and so it's definitely worth your time. Similarly, animal talks will likely ensure that the animals are within viewing distance so keep an eye out.

3: Download the app
Nobody wants to be messing around trying to find the nearest toilet on a paper map when you're already freezing, so make sure you download the app ahead of time. Not only does it show exactly where you are right now to avoid confusion, you can also search by things like toilets or restaurants for that much needed wee or coffee. Just trust me on this, it's a lot easier than trying to scrunch a paper map back together in a pair of gloves.

4: Dress for the weather
As aforementioned, there's a lot of open space (naturally), and so make sure that you're dressed with this in mind, and make sure to take advantage of as many indoor enclosures as you can. Also, not to sound like a nan, but if you are going to be indoors for a long period of time make sure you take off your coat, scarf and any extra layers that you can because you're going to be hugely thankful for feeling the benefit when you get outside again.

5: Pack a thermos
As part of their waste reduction programme Chester Zoo is no longer providing plastic lids for your disposable cups, which means that if you're going to want to carry one round, you're going to also want to make sure that you have a thermos or your own reusable coffee cup. This definitely helps even more with the environmental factor anyway, and so take the time to do your part if you're in a position to do so, plus you'll be thankful for it when your hot drink stays hot for longer (and you inevitably don't end up spilling it on your hands)

6: Most importantly, set your expectations
It is going to very cold, there likely are going to be less animals readily available to view; but that doesn't take away from the experience if you're ready for it and you have a plan in mind. Also do remember, as aforementioned, the zoo closes around 4pm/4:30pm in the Winter, and so you might have to get a lot more done in a much shorter space of time; so definitely plan for that the best that you can.

We went to the zoo last week and it was brilliant (not sponsored, we paid for our own tickets), winter is a beautiful time to be there and we really enjoyed ourselves, but it definitely helped that we set our expectations, and so here's hoping these tips  helped you to do the same!

Sammy xo.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

European Christmas Market Breaks You Can Probably Afford

Let's face it, we could all do with a holiday right now, and with it coming up to Christmas I'm sure I'm not the only one who just wants to be wearing gloves, nine layers, and drinking some form of warm alcoholic beverage. You can, of course, do this most places (though it is sometime frowned upon re: the alcoholic beverage), however I would argue there's very few places better suited to doing it than at a Christmas market. If you're ready to get your Christmas cheer on, I've compiled a list of places that you can book for that December getaway right now, and it might not be as expensive as you think! As a disclaimer, however, before you read on - all prices were correct at the time of publishing this post, and all Airbnbs were free to book, I unfortunately cannot guarantee this will be the case when you get to them. Each price is for one person, however I have adjusted prices for 2 people should you be travelling with someone else, and each Airbnb does accommodate for said second person, no flight prices include luggage. 

A picture of tall apartment blocks at dusk
Krakow, Poland.

-UNDER £100-
Krakow - £98 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 3 nights (or £121 for 2 people)
2/12/19-5/12/19, Luton Flights

Of course our cheapest trip away would be a London airport, however I do have to say you could get something very similarly priced from Edinburgh and so if you can travel a little, both are great steals. I can personally attest for Krakow Christmas markets which are truly beautiful, and I will maintain until the day I die that there is nowhere quite as magical as Poland in the Winter, so if you have a spare £100 and you're looking for that getaway, this could be the perfect choice. The Airbnb here is situated in the old town, which is walkable to the town centre (though Polish cabs are deceptively cheap), though there were also a good few others around the same price point. The one big thing here is the hellishly early flight home, though I do think I would happily sit in an airport at 4:00am if it meant I got a few days in Poland as part of the deal. Cheap? Yes. Cheerful? Definitely. Worth the price? I think so, to the extent I'm considering pricing up a train to Luton in order to see whether it would still be worth my time.

-UNDER £110-
Prague - £102 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 3 nights ( or £134 for 2 people)
09/12/19-12/12/19, Stansted Flights

Prague is one of my favourite cities in the world and I honestly think that I'd find any excuse to go back, but I can only imagine how adorably festive it would be with the addition of a Christmas market. You are, realistically, getting less bang for your buck with this one - as you're staying in a glorified hotel room with nowhere to cook that is a little further out from town than I would like. Having said that, for three nights it's really not the end of the world to eat out, and there is a direct transport link from the area you're in to the main city centre, so it feels a little like swings and roundabouts when weighing it up. I do also think this might be better than my accommodation when I went to Prague, which was a glorified cupboard where the bathroom was larger than the bedroom, but that's a whole different story. The flights here are both night flights which is a little better all round generally speaking, and if you're willing to compromise a little on accommodation, I don't think it would be so much of an issue that it would ruin your trip by any means.

-UNDER £130-
Budapest - £128 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 3 nights (or £164 for 2 people)
7/12/19-10/12/19, Edinburgh Flights

Like I said, Edinburgh are really rivalling London for affordable flights at the moment, and so if you can travel there it definitely seems like it would be worth a look. Have I just included Budapest because I want to go so badly I'll shoehorn it into any conversation? Absolutely, but the Christmas markets do look beyond amazing. This Airbnb is close to the middle of town, you have two morning flights so get a pretty full first day in the city, and the pricing of accommodation here seems really reasonable, so I can't imagine you'll be paying through the nose for everything you want when you're out there. Though it's a little more expensive than the two offerings that came before, this is definitely the one I'd be snapping up if I were close enough to the airport in question to do so.

-UNDER £200-
Gdansk - £199 for flights and entire flat Airbnb for 6 nights (or £256 for 2 people)
02/12/19 - 08/12/19, Leeds Flights

Got a little money to splurge? I've never been to Gdansk but Katy made it sound so amazing without the Christmas market, I can only imagine what some fairy lights and adorable handmade toys will add to the situation. Though, as I say, this is a bit of a splurge, the truth is that the return flights are still only £20, so the money really comes into spending a little more time in the city than in the others, and having an Airbnb smack bang in the middle of the city. Though, I do have to say, you may want to consider a luggage charge on this one, because 6 days is a long time to go with just the bits you can fit in your hand luggage. A little more expensive than the other bits on this list? Yes, a bit, but still an absolute steal if you happy to want to spend a little more money on having a little more time to explore.

So there you go, there's something from a lower price point right through to a little blowout, and so if you have the time, money and holidays to take from work, there's really no reason not to book! I unfortuately do not have the latter, and so please do have a mulled wine or four for me, and do let me know if you book anything exciting for the Christmas season!

Sammy xo.

Monday, 21 October 2019

The Comeback Kid

I don't really know where to start writing this post. In July last year I was going through a really rough time, keeping up with my blog was difficult and keeping up with life was even harder and so I took a week break, that bled into a month, that ended up being over a year and though I kept meaning to come back, life seemed to get in the way, and doubt seemed to get in the way, and I never found the time to write. Something that seemed so cathartic to me for so long suddenly felt like so many people knowing the ins and outs of my life and I was so overwhelmed by even living it back then that telling people seemed wrong, and not telling people seemed like lying by omission when I created this big space where the primary concept was making sure that people felt less alone. Back then, I felt the most alone I ever have, and so writing telling people that it got better just seemed hollow and false.

When you convince yourself you're no good at something and nobody is going to care if you come back or not, you'll find any reason not to do the thing. For example between writing paragraph one here and paragraph two I've found a whole manner of things that must be done right now, including but not limited to; washing, brushing and drying my hair, charging my phone, watching an episode of taskmaster, shaving my entire body, texting my boyfriend to tell him I'm probably going to blog, making plans for future blog posts when this one isn't even finished yet... I could go on. I won't though.

Girl Smiling Wearing Grey Winter Coat and Glasses
You don't care about the feelings stuff though, you're just here to see what you missed, and so here's the rundown!

1: Met Josh properly, referred to him as pop punk guy on twitter for 2 months, promptly deleted tweets referring to him as such when he followed me, played it cool by spending every day with him for 10 months, played it cool by throwing him an elaborate surprise birthday party, played it so cool that he knew I liked him and asked me out, continue to play it cool by telling him he's pretty and I love him at any given opportunity.

2: Met all of Josh's friends who are now some of my best friends. Play it cool with them by being mean at any given opportunity. They know I'm joking though. I hope.

3: Went to uni and smashed Spanish. Hated Portuguese. Left uni. I do, however, like to make the most of being able to speak Spanish by slipping into it without really realising when I'm drunk. 

4: Laughed, a lot. Cried, a lot. Did more pub quizzes than is probably normal for someone who doesn't actually drink alcohol more than once a month. Heavily contributed to the stock price of Diet Coke (I have no proof for this, but I do heavily suspect it to be true). Did many more things that I really don't want my mum (or more importantly my boyfriend's mum) to read about on the internet, so we'll leave this point here.

Basically you've missed a lot, but also not much at all. It's been a wild ride, I laugh more than I cry these days, which is something I never thought I'd say. I'm ready to start writing again, I hope there's at least some of you humouring me by keeping reading. Now the awkward part's over, I've got no more excuses, plus I'm nearly up to date on Taskmaster and I've exhausted most of true crime YouTube, so now seems as good a time as any!

Sammy xo.