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The month that was: July

What happened:
July started with a heatwave, but then in true British fashion the hot weather disappeared and the gloomy grey skies that have emerged are more suitable for October. Doh! We've booked our summer holiday though so we have some proper Greek sunshine to look forward to - I can't wait!

Friends came over to visit from Ireland, so we went to see The Lion King and made a flying visit to the Science Museum and Trafalger Square. It's the third time that I've seen The Lion King on the West End, and it's still as colourful and wonderful as ever. (Apart from when Mufasa dies. *sobs*) We also headed to Yorkshire to celebrate my brother's birthday and my nephew's birthday.

I headed back to Notting Hill to do some social media work, which made a change from writing, but it also geared me up to get the first draft of Found finished in August. There's nothing quite like a dose of sweaty crammed commutes on the Tube and working in a noisy air-conditioned office to refocus you on your writing! (Though, on the plus side, I got to have my favourite chicken katsu curry from Wasabi for lunch, and it was good to use my brain in a different way.)

We also headed to Sunset Safari at ZSL London Zoo, which is when the zoo stays open until 10pm. I absolutely loved it, especially seeing the giraffes and the penguins (review here). That same weekend we popped along to the Lambeth Country Show - we checked out the scarecrow competition, though we didn't see any camel racing this year!

What I ate:
In July we headed to Duck and Waffle for a belated anniversary dinner. The verdict? Tasty food with an awesome view (review here). We headed to Com Viet with friends for cheap and cheerful Vietnamese food, and then had lunch with them the next day at the V&A. If you're ever in the area and are stuck for lunch, it's a great place to head to - the café area is stunning.

I tried out Sri Suwoon with a friend - they do yummy Thai food if you're in the Victoria/Pimlico area - and Olly and I went on a burrito lunch date at Chilango. I had lunch at Honest Burger in Notting Hill - their burgers never look that inspiring, but they taste yum - and Olly and I returned to the Bengal Clipper for a curry with his parents. Finally, I had dinner with a friend at Wagamama. The service was pretty poor, and they always give you far too many noodles, but I do like their gyoza.

What I watched:
I finished watching Switched at Birth. I liked it, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as it's very day-to-day - I prefer a bit more drama with my TV shows! I also continued to watch Humans and Pretty Little Liars - there's only one more episode of Humans left, and I can't wait to find out how it ends!

Films watched: 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, Jupiter Ascending, The Skeleton Twins, Cars, Margin Call, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Boyhood, The Hangover and Little Fockers.

What I read: 
In July I read 18 books, and I abandoned reading 4 books. My favourite read of the month was Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot; I also enjoyed The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort, You Had Me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson, Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking, and White Wedding by Milly Johnson.

How was your July? x

Beauty: Love Me Beauty July 2015 review

I stumbled across Love Me Beauty a few months ago, and whilst I did have a poke around at their offering, I decided not to order their beauty box because I knew I'd only end up with more products that I probably didn't need. However, when an email popped in my inbox which said that they now had Nuxe products in their boutique, I immediately headed back to their site.

That's because Love Me Beauty is a bit different from other beauty boxes. Each month you get six credits, and you get to choose what you spend these credits on... I'll never receive yet another nail polish that I won't actually use! You fill our a quick questionnaire and it recommends which products you should choose that month, but you can discard these and pick what you want. I did, and I went for two full-size Nuxe products, a sample Nuxe product, plus a full-size eye shadow.

First up, I picked Nuxe's crème fraîche de beauté mask, which I use anyway, and I'd just run out of. This made the box an utter bargain since the mask usually costs £18.50 - a monthly box costs £10 (plus £3.95 postage), and since I used a voucher to get my first box half price... ker-ching! The mask is great at deeply moisturising skin and it leaves my face feeling very soft.

I also picked the Nuxe gentle toning lotion with rose petals which, again, was full-size and costs £14. I've never used this before, though I have used the final Nuxe product I picked - a sample size of their Huile Prodigieuse multi-usage dry oil. It smells gorgeous, and it's great at replenishing dry skin. I'll let you know about the toner later.

Finally, I used my last credit for Bellápierre's shimmer powder in champagne, which costs £12.99. It's very sparkly, so more suitable for the evening, but I'm happy with my final pick. It's quite refreshing to like all the products I've received in a beauty box!

I'll be keeping a keen eye on what's in the box next month, but if they keep including brands like Nuxe, Love Me Beauty will *easily* become my favourite beauty box. What's your favourite beauty box? x

Sunset Safari 2015 at London Zoo

Last week I went to the last Sunset Safari of 2015 at London Zoo which means that if you like the sound of this, you can't actually go this year - sorry! Sunset Safari used to be called "Zoo Lates" but it was relaunched this year and made more family-friendly. Hopefully they'll be running this again next year though as it is such a fun, albeit short, evening.

Now, it goes without saying that I'm already a fan of London Zoo. I've been before when I was young and, in recent years, Olly took me there on our first date. We also returned when he adopted me Ellish (the giraffe on the right, below).

Safari Sunset runs from 6pm through to 10pm, though most of the animals go to bed at around 9pm, and we weren't able to get there until 7pm because of work and what not. You'll never be able to see all the animals if you go to Sunset Safari, but you should be able to tick off your favourites. The giraffes, of course, were our first call after we grabbed a drink.

One thing that Sunset Safari has going against it is that it's a lot more crowded at the Zoo than it would be if you went during the day (yes, even at a weekend, I'd say). We weren't able to get up on the viewing platform to see the giraffes being fed up close, and you might have to wait/queue a bit to get to see the animals - that's probably the only downside.

It was a very jolly evening, and there was also lots of talks on, as well as musicians playing and chill-out areas where you could kick back and relax. We had a quick break from visiting the animals to grab some food from the street food stalls - expect to pay around £5-7 per dish - though bear in mind that if you can wait until 9pm for food (that's roughly when the animals go to bed), you'll get maximum animal time.

Have you been to Sunset Safari (or Zoo Lates)? x

London Zoo, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY
Adult tickets to Sunset Safari cost £32 in 2015, children's tickets £22.40. We booked an offer through Time Out making it £14 each. Just to note, this is much more expensive than what a ticket costs to go the zoo during the day. (£24.30 on the gate for adults; £17.10 for children.)

2015 LBL: Eat at Duck & Waffle

12. Eat at Duck & Waffle

Eating at Duck & Waffle takes a bit of planning because, even though it's open 24/7, tables at peak times get booked up extremely fast. You can only book two months in advance, so to get our Friday evening table at 7pm, I had to keep a sharp eye on their booking calendar.

I succeeded though, and even managed to snag one of the best tables there. Just look at the view we had from our table - we looked straight across to the Gherkin, and looked down on the Tower of London and London Bridge. Quite something, huh!

Whilst the view is amazing, and the staff inside are super-duper lovely, the doormen on the ground are annoyingly snooty. Be warned! But, once you get past them, it's time to step into the lift to whizz up to the 40th floor. I suppose you could always take the stairs... Nah!

How you tackle your meal is up to you, but it's recommend that you approach it tapas-style and share plates. With G&T's to start with whilst we took in the view and chomped on some BBQ-spiced crispy pig ears, we decided on three small plates to share, plus the signature duck and waffle dish.

We had the glazed lamb breast with gooseberry, anchovy and raisins, which was beautiful. Wild Cornish pollock meatballs with lobster cream and Parmesan came next, and we also had roasted octopus with chorizo, baby potato and pickled cucumber (not pictured). The lamb and pollock meatballs were definitely my favourites out of these as, sadly, the signature duck and waffle dish was nice, but the flavours weren't mind-blowing.

We finished off with a dessert to share and chose the pistachio and dark chocolate macaroon sandwich with drunken cherries and crystallised white chocolate. OK, so that dessert was epic and I loved how the crystallised white chocolate just crumbled in my mouth. Definitely get this dessert if you go! We enjoyed all this with a bottle of Lammershoek Chenin Blanc 2011, a tasty South African white wine.

All-in-all we had a lovely evening at the Duck & Waffle and we left with happy tummies. The view is definitely one of its strongest selling points, though that's not to say the food isn't tasty - it really is delicious - but I'm not sure it's mouth-watering enough to entice us back any time soon. I'm glad we went though, and that's another item ticked off our 2015 London Bucket List.

Have you been to the Duck & Waffle?

Duck and Waffle, The Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
Dinner cost £160 for two people, which included a starter, three small plates, the duck & waffle dish, dessert, two gin and tonics, a bottle of wine, a bottle of sparkling water, plus service. 

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