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ICEBAR London

One thing I like doing in London, even if it is ridiculously touristy, is go to tourist attractions. So, the other weekend we headed to the ICEBAR LONDON where everything is made from ice harvested in Sweden. It definitely counts as a tourist trap, especially with the number of hen and stag parties we saw queueing up outside.

We had booked the ICEBAR and Dine package, and the food certainly surprised me. I was expecting some OK grub, but the menu and the quality of the food was really quite decent. My pork belly wrap starter was delicious, and my cod main with crispy chicken skin, pea tartar and shoestring fries was also very tasty. We went for dessert to kill time as our package had allocated two hours for dinner before we could enter the ICEBAR. I went for the green tea marshmallows, and that was the only disappointing course for me.

The main part of the evening was, of course, the ICEBAR  itself. It's £13 to get in off-peak if you book in advance, £16 peak - if you book the ICEBAR and Dine package like we did it works out a bit differently. This package also includes 40 minutes in the bar, as well as your thermal cape and an ice cocktail once you're inside.

Everything in the ICEBAR is made of ice, including the glass your cocktail comes in, and it's kept at a cheek-tingling -5°C all year round. After the stifling temperature in the restaurant, the cooler temperature was welcomed by us all. After enjoying our drinks, and posing for photos, we headed back outside into the warmth.

Would I go back? Probably not unless someone was having a birthday there or something like that, but with cocktails in London often costing over a tenner, £13-£16 for a drink in the ICEBAR is somewhere to consider for a quirky drink if you're in the Regent Street area. Oh, and the temperature doesn't actually feel *that* cold - those thermal capes do their job!

Would you visit the ICEBAR? x

Life of Late - June 2014

This weekend was a three day weekend for me, celebrating both Father's Day and my anniversary with Olly.

Friday evening kicked off the weekend with dinner at Joe's Southern Kitchen, followed by Matilda the Musical. Joe's used to be Navajo Joe but, regardless of the name change, it's still tasty grub: I went for the very tasty Joe's prison plate.

Matilda was truly awesome. It takes all the wonderful elements from Roald Dahl's tale and adds the genius of Tim Minchin into the mix to make a delightful musical. I loved the set, the story and the songs - Matilda definitely makes it into my top ten musicals list, and it's one I know I'll have to see again! 

On Sunday we went to Brixton Windmill, the only remaining windmill in inner London, and one that happens to be in our neighbourhood. Brixton Windmill is free to visit, but you need to book if you want to take the full tour. It's incredible to think that when it was built the area around it was just open fields - Brixton is certainly very different nowadays!

Brighton beckoned us on Monday for our anniversary. It wasn't hot like it was last week, but we still had a lovely afternoon walking around the town and seafront, eating fish and chips on the beach, and donuts on the pier. I also played my first ever game of crazy golf, somehow managing to get an impressive three hole-in-ones! (But I still lost. Booooooo!)

All-in-all, a pretty darn good weekend, don't you think? x

SpaSpa Awards 2013: Best Romantic Comedy

http://www.indie-book-bargains.co.uk/awards/longList.php
How exciting! I'm utterly thrilled to find out today that Kept has made it on to the longlist for the Best Romantic Comedy category in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013.

I can't wait to find out if I've made the shortlist! x

City break in Barcelona

Barcelona is an awesome city and there's plenty to do and see whilst you are there. One of the best ways to get around and see all the sights is to use the hop-on and hop-off tourist buses. We booked a two-day ticket with City Sightseeing, but there are other operators available. The Metro system is also easy to use, and the T10 ticket offers the best value - you get ten tickets for the price of what it would cost you to make five single journeys.

Over the two days we had our City Sightseeing bus ticket, we did all three bus routes so got a taste of all the major sights in Barcelona, even if we didn't to get to explore the city in full. I'd love to have spent time in the Olympic Park and gone to Montjuïc Castle, but there's always next time! The same goes for the Palace of Catalan Music - it's stunning from the outside, and apparently just as impressive inside.

One place that Olly insisted that we went to see was Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona. Sadly, their former coach Tito Vilanova died the day before we flew out to Barcelona. Flowers and tributes were still been left when we were there. 


Another great way to explore Barcelona is by foot. We had a gorgeous time weaving in and out of the narrow streets, exploring the neighbourhoods, and seeing what we could spot.

If we could speak Spanish, we'd definitely apply for jobs in Barcelona - since the city is so sunny and relaxed, who could blame us for wanting to move to the City of Counts! x

A Barcelona birthday

So far I've told you all about Gaudí, Tibidabo and Montjuïc, but now it's time to tell you what we did to celebrate my birthday in Barcelona, the reason we were there after all! Given that I am a big fan of the beach, we headed there to soak up some sunshine. The weather was a skin-warming 27°C, which meant that lunch in the sun had to be done. Just look at the blue sky!

The beach area - which I'm widely classing as Barceloneta, Port Vell and Port Olímpic - is dotted with different types of art. Roy Lichtenstein, famous for his Pop Art, created the sculpture below for the 1992 Summer Olympics. The picture of me is my interpretation of... OK, OK. I'm just leaping on the beach!

The Barcelona fish is another sculpture that was added to the city for the Olympics, and this one is by Frank Gehr. Some are weird, some are wacky, but most of them are quite impressive!


After a birthday lunch on the beach front - we went to Agua, which was worth it for the location, though I wouldn't say the food was anything special - we headed to Barcelona Zoo. Home once upon a time to Snowflake, the only known albino gorilla, it was the giraffes that I was there to see!

After visiting the other animals we tried the Picasso Museum but sadly the queue was nearly two hours long. He might be one of my favourite artists but I didn't want to spend any of my birthday in a queue. We decided to continue on the Barcelona bus tour to see more of the sights, before heading back to the hotel for some cake. This rainbow cake came from Sweet Dreams, a random bakery we passed, but one worth searching out!

At the top of the Hotel Princess Barcelona, where we were staying, you'll find the Desigual Loft. Desigual is massive in Barcelona as the company is based there; it's a very funky space! There is also a swimming pool that overlooks the sea, but it was windy and far too cool for a dip. Definitely worth a peep and a pose though! 

After changing into something a bit more suitable, we headed to Arcano for my birthday dinner. Ranked in the Top 50 restaurants in Barcelona on TripAdvisor when we were there (April 2014), we weren't disappointed with our Catalan sausage starter and steak mains. 

As an aside, I have to say that the TripAdvisor app is excellent, especially because it uses the GPS on your phone to point you in the direction of where you need to go. You can keep your data switched off and avoid being charged European rates. It's something I'll download for every city break from now on.  

Right, I better get planning next year's birthday. It's the big 3-0 next time. Eek! x

TAG, you’re it. Get to know me.

I was tagged by Zili in the "Get to know me" meme, so here it goes!

Tell us 5 random facts about you:

1. I'm a dreadful singer.
2. I was a guest on The Big Breakfast with rock band Terrorvision. Oddly enough, years later I worked with one of the band members. I was working in a corporate communications role; he was their in-house designer. (Not at all rock and roll!)
3. I collect thimbles.
4. I passed my driving test first time with two minors... this was despite writing off my instructor's car the month before. (It wasn't my fault!)
5. I have a cat called Compost.

When is your birthday? 

 April - I'm most definitely a Taurus!

What is your favourite colour? 

Turquoise.

What is your favourite memory? 

My first date with Olly. We went to London Zoo, hung out in the park, and then went for dinner and drinks at Paramount, Centre Point. It's most definitely the most expensive first date I've ever been on and, it goes without saying, the best!

Describe a day in your life:

I don't have a typical day at the moment. I finished my day job last week so I have more time to write - this week has turned into sorting out "life admin", but I'm hoping to get into a routine soon!

What are your five favourite songs?

Not definitive, but these five are definitely up there as some of my favourite songs!

1. For Reasons Unknown - The Killers
2. Pork and Beans - Weezer
3. This is Hardcore - Pulp
4. Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
5. Atomic - Blondie
 
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

I'm going to be sneaky and say pig so that covers off bacon and pulled pork - two firm favourites of mine!

What is something you really dislike? 

Cheese. I just don't get it.

Summer or Winter? 

Summer - I love being warm and the lighter nights.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why? 

After my recent birthday trip there, I'm going to pick Barcelona. I loved the city vibe mixed with the beach lifestyle.

Name five of your favourite films:

I definitely have more than five favourite films, so this isn't necessarily my top five!

1. How to Steal a Million
2. Zoolander
3. 10 Things I Hate About You
4. Stardust
5. WALL·E

If you won the lottery, what would you buy? 

Depending on how much I won, I'd love a little Kandinsky or Picasso painting. 

Favourite day of the week?

Saturday, of course! It's a day when you can be completely lazy after the working week, knowing that you still have another day to left to do all the boring chores!

What 3 things would you take to a desert island? 

Assuming that I'm only going to visit the desert island and I can easily get home, I'd take my Kindle full of awesome beach reads, a comfy hammock and plenty of sunscreen.

Sweet or Savoury? 

I love both, but I love sweet stuff a fraction more.

Early Bird or Night Owl? 

Neither! I used to be a night owl but I'm definitely not that or an early bird now.

Name five of your favourite books:

Again, this is in no way my definitive top five list!

1. The Secret Island - Enid Blyton
2. George's Marvellous Medicine - Roald Dahl
3. Cents and Sensibility - Maggie Alderson
4. A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

Favourite drink?

A caipirinha - I had the best one ever, oddly enough, in a stream near the Genipabu Dunes!

Favourite animal? 

That would have to be giraffes! Olly adopted Ellish, a giraffe at London Zoo, for me. I'm also a big fan of penguins.

Who do you tag next? 

I tag Paula, Hannah, Jenny and Kirsty!

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