Night Tales

IMG_3437Last weekend McD & I indulged ourselves at Night Tales, London’s newest and coolest foodie pop up!  Located in a Shoreditch carpark very close to Old Street tube station (exact address is 288 Old Street, London EC1V 9DP) this alfresco delight is open every Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 6pm to midnight until 20th December 2014… tickets are purchased on the door at a cost of £4 and arriving early is recommended, luckily McD managed to get us on to a guest list but speaking to people inside I was told the queue although long does move fast, but still I’d definitely recommend getting there early, if only to nab a table to keep us your base for the night ;)

IMG_3438IMG_3439IMG_3451IMG_3453Once in we headed straight over to Randy’s Wing Bar… McD knows them and are the reason we managed to sneak on to a guest list… THANK YOU BOYS!!!  Their booth was a great place to start our food adventure… wings and beer, what better starter is there for an over indulgent feast!?  We shared their version of a surf & turf; buffalo chicken wings and fried shrimp, the delicious bufallo sauce had a warming kick and it was all real finger lickin’ good stuff, I definitely recommend stopping by Randy’s Wing Bar to try their delights.

IMG_3443IMG_3457IMG_3445After inhaling the wings in seconds we decided we needed lubrication whilst we decided on which food outlet to tackle next, so with our rum cocktails in hand we wandered around the venue checking out all the food offerings and soaking in the great atmosphere… helped greatly thanks to the live DJ!  Suffering major food envy and serious FOMO from watching everyone tuck into their dinner we formed a plan of trying to eat as much as humanly possible by ordering the featured special from each stall and sharing it between us… needless to say the holiday diet went out the window for this date night!

IMG_3444IMG_3440IMG_3436We started with Patty & Bun… something I have wanted to tick of my ‘London Burger Must Try’ list for a long time, it was a great tasting burger, although a little too saucy for my liking… lots of napkins were needed to clean ourselves up after sampling that delight.  We then shared an amazing pork bun from Yum Bun – hands down my favourite from the night, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for any shop they may open in the future!  Finally we tried the new kid on the block, Bathing Bull (we overheard it was their opening night) they served amazingly tender beef brisket on toasted ciabatta, it was very warming and satisfying although this was the dish that pushed our stomachs over the edge, game over for our feast!

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IMG_3449IMG_3452IMG_3450Going just the two of us meant we didn’t have the space in our stomachs to taste all the exhibitors so we left with a little regret of having not had the chance to enjoy jerk chicken from The Rum Kitchen (which I’ve blogged about before here), a cheese toasties from Morty and Bob’s and a slice of pizza from Voodoo Ray’s.

If you are thinking of going I definitely recommend going with a group of friends, it was a great date night with McD but if you want to be tactical and try everything, going in a bigger group will help you achieve this, that of course is all dependent on if your friends like to share!  Night Tales website doesn’t really have much useful information so if you want more info I suggest checking out there facebook page before you decide to go.
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Whistle & Bango.

IMG_3274Finding it difficult to buy something for the girl who has everything?  Well look no further, I ended up buying this as a gift to myself BUT would have been over the moon if someone gifted it to me, which is why I wanted to share this as think it would make an amazing present for a friend, girlfriend, sister, aunty, niece, mum or trendy grandma this christmas.

So what is this amazing gift… its a bangle, but no ordinary bangle a Whistle & Bango postcode bangle, yes if you can wear your heart on your sleeve why not your postcode on your wrist ;)  Do check out their website, they have lots of London postcodes to choose from.  Below are a few postcode bangle examples, don’t you just have arm candy envy looking at them all?!

IMG_3269Being a Wandsworth Town girl I bought myself a SW18 bangle, I was a bit annoyed as it was silver rather than gold like most of my other jewellery – but I have embraced the two-tone look and rather like it as a casual day look!  Delivery was quick and it came wrapped in tissue and a nice branded box.

If you don’t live in London or they don’t have your London postcode available then you could always personalise one of their blank ‘canvas bangles’ you could have your postcode, initials or favourite airport inserted on to it maybe?  Although at the time of writing this blog post they only had the one colour below available, I believe they are offering more colour choices for the canvas bangle to their website so go check it out.

IMG_3273I haven’t been asked to write this and the post hasn’t been sponsored by anyone, I promise it is genuinely a personal review.  I have received so many compliments on my SW18 bangle which is why I just couldn’t resist sharing it on here!   Whistle & Bango have allowed me to share the 10% discount code I used to purchase mine with you all, so if you do end up buying one try popping the promo code “LOVELONDON” in at checkout for a cheeky 10% discount for yourselves too!

Below is a picture of my arm candy which I wore last weekend in Ireland, thought it was quite good to illustrate my feelings at the time; you can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl… just sharing the postcode love ;)

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Debbie Does Donard

IMG_3217I just got back from an amazing weekend in Ireland visiting an old university friend of McD, Eric and his beautiful family at their hill farm in Donard, Co.Wicklow!   We arrived at their farm-house on Friday evening where we were fed an amazing Goulash made from Venison shot on their farm… it tasted absolutely delicious, my mouth is still actually salivating and the thought of it!  After dinner and long catch up over many glasses of wine we retired for bed excited for what the rest of the weekend will bring.

In daylight we got to admire the farm in its full glory, McD was in his element surrounded by tractors, motor bikes, quad bikes and even a few vintage cars for him to play with!  Being a city girl I was a little in awe of everything, so unsurprisingly I was very trigger happy with the camera whilst McD just got stuck in and helped around the farm!

IMG_3211-0IMG_3218IMG_3232IMG_3233IMG_3240IMG_3220IMG_3221The farm being on a hill has the most amazing views at the top, so after our tour around the farmyard we went on a walk to the very top of the hill to admire the majestic view… I FELL IN LOVE!  No wonder Ireland has been nicknamed “The Emerald Isle”… the views from the farm were just magnificent, endlesss fields of lush green vegetation went on for as far as the eye could see!

Again my camera rarely left my hand, the pictures below are beautiful but do not come near to seeing it with your own eyes whilst breathing in the fresh farm air.  Eric and Aoife (Eric’s wife) really managed to put my Hunter wellie boots through their paces too, it felt good using them for something other than Glastonbury ;) and the hill walking was good training for McD and my upcoming Borneo adventure, where we will be climbing Mt kinabalu!

IMG_3210-0IMG_3219IMG_3213IMG_3214IMG_3206-0IMG_3205-0IMG_3212Saturday evening entertainment was in the form of a diner party held in their farm kitchen; how kitsch was it using the old tractor calendar pages as the place cards?!  The meat at dinner was all from the farm; we started with a few slices of their home smoked venison, followed by a delicious leg of Ham served with a rich cheese sauce…. YUM!

All the meat we ate over the weekend was from the farm, there is something very satisfying about knowing where what you have eaten has come from and how it got to your plate.  McD and I are fully aware that supermarket shopping from now on will be a depressing affair after experiencing how the other half live!

IMG_3229IMG_3228IMG_3231The amazing scenery and food weren’t the only things I was in awe with over the weekend, whilst walking between the main farm-house and Eric’s converted farm-house at night I noticed the sky, I have honesty never seen so many stars… I think Eric and Aoife must have thought me crazy when I excused myself to stand in the cold for 15 minutes to point my camera up to the sky (results of which are shown below).

It really was a wonderful weekend, Eric and Aoife were so hospitable, as were there family & friends… we were made to feel right at home!  I feel so lucky to experience Ireland from such a special viewpoint, I certainly won’t be so disappointed if they beat us (England) in the rugby any more ;)

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Win a trip to New York!

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I love birthdays, why?! Because it means presents and Haché Burgers who are currently celebrating their 10th birthday don’t want to receive presents, instead they are giving them away :)

Not only have they created this special anniversary burger… and how amazing does it sound: “6oz beef burger infused with Rosemary thyme and garlic salt, topped with caramelized onions, sweet cure bacon and Guinness Cheddar cheese. Served on a smokey coleslaw in a brioche bun”  They are also giving away a present with every one of their Haché burgers sold!

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YES… below each “Haché burger” sold is a chip containing a gift from Haché to you, ranging from a free drink, bottle of wine or burger for you to redeem on your next visit as well as a chance to win a trip to New York City for two, BURGER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!

So if you are feeling lucky I would recommend getting yourselves down to one of the 4 (soon to be 5 in Balham) London Haché restaurants… Take your pick London: Camden, Chelsea, Shoreditch or Clapham! One last thing, If you do win the trip to NYC, shotgun coming with you as your plus one! ;)

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Secret sausages

IMG_3071Don’t you just like it when things work themselves out, a few weeks ago I was sitting at my desk thinking what healthy dish I could cook for my girlfriends I had invited around for a low-key dinner party and out of the blue an email was sent to me asking if my friends and I would like to try secret sausages, so having done my due diligence (aka… checking out there website) I accepted their kind offer.

Secret sausages are secret because they don’t actually contain any meat, the casings are made from seaweed and rice, and filled with well-flavoured vegetables and rice… meaning not only are they vegetarian but they have 90% less fat, 50% fewer calories and 35% less salt than normal sausages!  Presently Secret Sausages have developed 6 flavours ranging from the classic Lincolnshire and Cumberland to the more adventurous Honey Bee, Cheese & spring Onion, Rosemary & Garlic, and Chilli & Coriander.  I was fortunate enough to be sent a couple of packs of the latter two flavours to use at my dinner party!

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Secret Sausages are proudly supporting the Movember charity this month so aswell as sending me lots of their delicious sausages to try I was also treated to some fake moustaches for me and my guests to don for the night whilst enjoying their sausages…  I adopted this movember theme for the dinner party and asked my friends to not bring any wine or flowers but instead donate to the charity directly, in return I laid a moustache themed table and cooked them a secret sausage feast.

IMG_2922IMG_3070Cooking the Secret Sausages are simple, like normal sausages you can grill, fry or oven bake, I settled on grilling as my plan was to serve them with a tomato sauce.  I lightly sprayed the sausages with some olive oil and then grilled and turned until golden brown all over.  Once cooked I cut up the sausages into bite size pieces and added to a homemade tomato sauce.

I used my trusted age-old tomato sauce recipe… simply reduce or increase recipe size proportinately, depending on how many you want to feed but this recipe will easily satisfy four people:

1 x 400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes

1 x 400g tin of Passata

1 x chopped onion

2 x crushed cloves of garlic

1 x teaspoon of chilli powder

1/2 x teaspoon of paprika

Handful of roughly chopped fresh basil

3-6 x teaspoons of sugar

Salt & pepper to Season

Gently fry the onion, garlic, paprika and chilli powder with a little olive oil, once the onion has softened pour in the chopped tomatoes & passata and stir & bring to the boil.  Add the basil and season with salt, pepper and the sugar… simmer for half an hour.  I decided to add the sausages just before serving so the flavour of the sausages wasn’t affected too much by the sauce.

Keeping with the “healthy” theme I served the sausage sauce on a bed of courgetti (courgette noodles) To make the courgetti I used my new kitchen gadget, a juliette peeler I bought from amazon for £6, takes up no space in the kitchen and very quick and easy to use!  I cook by gently sauting the peeled courgette in a little chilli infused olive oil to lightly heat and flavour before serving!

IMG_2931IMG_2924The meal went down well, everyone enjoyed the sausage flavours… the only criticism was they lacked the true bite of a real sausage, they were softer and a little less satisfying than actual meat sausages… but for a meat free or healthy alternative I would definitely suggest giving these a go.  I’m already planning a sunday dinner of toad in the hole using their cumberland version!!!  If you are interested in trying them for yourselves, their website allows you to buy online as well as providing a full list of their stockists.

IMG_2923After dinner we headed down to The Ship for a night cap, which turned into a few “night caps” and a little dance – It was a thursday night band night afterall, it would have been rude not to ;)  Which reminds me boys if you are participating in Movember this year make sure you get down to The Ship, Wandsworth this month, they are offering anyone with a movember ‘tash a free glass of London Stout!

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Remember Remember…

IMG_3061Excuse this photo filled post… it’s more of a diary post, as much as I love blogging to share recipes, cool places and things with the internet; I also like to think of this blog as a sort of personal online diary, and this is one of the posts I hope to look back on when I am old to reminisce…

On Saturday Bethan, McD and I finally managed to fit in a visit to the Tower of London to view the “Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red“, leaving it so late to see the art installation meant we got to see it at it’s almost completed state of 888,246 red ceramic poppies planted in the Tower of London’s moat, each one representing a single british fatality of the First World War.  The vast visualisation of all these deaths along with the personal memorials scattered around the installation are truly humbling, and really reinforces the famous war quote “Freedom is not free.”

Arriving at Saturday lunchtime, the day before Remembrance Sunday was probably not the best time to choose to visit the display, the crowds were crazy!  I’ve honestly not seen so many people in one place in central London before (and I have done many years of christmas shopping on Oxford Street!)  Viewing the poppies was done in the crowd’s time not your own, once you had committed yourself to entering the viewing area you were kept to the speed of the crowd, it took us just over an hour and half to walk a distance which would not even have taken more than 5 minutes on a clear run.

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IMG_3066The rest of the saturday was spent sorting out the study in mine and McD’s flat and watching some of the Autumn International rugby games.  In the evening we went to our friend’s Dave & Katia’s flat in Battersea to watch the Battersea Park fireworks from their roof terrace.  The weather wasn’t playing friendly so hoods and umbrellas were up whilst we stared over to Battersea Park awaiting the spectacular FREE firework show…  Of course you get what you pay for and it turn’s out Kat & Dave’s viewing platform meant 1/2 the fireworks display was obscured by a block of flats, but that didn’t dampen our spirits – literally as we turned to the spirits to party away the rest of the night, FUN TIMES :)IMG_3084

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A’boat time ;)

IMG_2808A few weeks ago McD and I finally got around to doing something that has been on my to do list since our boating fun in Florida over a year ago… the RYA Level 2 Powerboat course; the course is designed to give novices and those with no formal boating qualification an overview which ensures anyone completing the course to be competent fairweather boaters.  There is no formal examination but participants must demonstrate competence to pass the course.

Once completed you can apply for your ICC (International Certificate of Competence) which is legally required for hiring or captaining your own boat on the inland waterways of Europe and for inland and coastal waters of Mediterranean countries, but generally it can also be useful to demonstrate sufficient boating experience to allow you to hire a boat worldwide!

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My research showed prices for this 2 day course varied from £199 to £400; McD and I settled for one of the most competitive priced courses run by a company near to McD’s home town in Poole called Saltwater Experience, they are located just under 2 hour drive away from London, based at a marina in Chirstchurch.   The course was run by the company owner, Lloyd James… after booking he emailled through a full breakdown of what to expect on the course and provided us with a list of what to bring.

The course is great fun and very hands on, a lot of time is spent out on the boat familiarising yourself with the controls and practicing a lot of manouvers, there is also a little classroom study where we are taught theory covering subjects like buoys, SOS and charts, it was all really interesting!  It wouldn’t be a Debbie Does a Blog blogpost without sharing a few snaps of the fun we had over the weekend ;)

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The weekend didn’t feel like it was a course, Lloyd was a great teacher and made us feel like we were just out on the water having fun with a friend.  Before the course I had no clue how to take out and manoevour a boat, now I would say I am extremely comfortable with the idea of boating, it’s a great practical skill to have and I would encourage you all to consider taking a similar course also.

The RYA L2 powerboat course can either be taken on costal waters or inland waterways, I strongly recommend doing it on the former; this is because you can apply for your ICC to be for costal as well as inland waters if you supplement your application with a passed CEVNI test (like a driver theory test, the CEVNI is a multiple choice test on the inland waterway’s rules & regulations.)  undertaking the powerboat course on inland wateways means you can not apply for a costal ICC and still have to supplement the application with a passed CEVNI test if you want to apply for you ICC inland waterway… conversely applying for just your costal ICC doesn’t require anything additional to your RYA Level 2 Powerboat costal waters certificate.

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Debbie Does A Gram…

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It’s taken 22 months but I have finally got around to printing out physical photos of me and McD… Thanks to Instagram and Facebook I rarely print out photos as it is so easy to share them online, but looking around my flat a month or so ago I was shocked not one printed photo of McD and me existed, this obviously had to be rectified, and it was as soon as I stumbled upon this multi photo frame on Amazon… The frame holds 16 4 x 4 inch photos… surely I can find 16 photos that mean a lot to me and McD to include in this frame?!

Frame purchased, I needed to figure out how to print off my favourite photos from instagram, I could of course send them to my home printer, but I am lazy and didn’t want to fuss with formatting, cutting & printing when I could pay someone else to do all that, so I googled some printing apps and found Polagram - an app that prints your photos directly from your instagram account for a small cost of £0.29 a photo.

The service could be improved with speedier delivery, I don’t recall being given a speedy delivery option and their standard delivery was frustrating thanks to my “I want it now” attitude but when they eventually arrived the frustration melted away and I couldn’t wait to open the pretty pink envelope the photos came in and frame them.

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I waited for McD to get home to help decide the final photos and layout of the frame, each photo has a special memory for us, I won’t bore you with the explanations!  The frame looks awesome filled with our memories, now we just have to decide where to put it, at the moment it’s living next to the TV giving me far more enjoyment than TOWIE and MIC ever does ;)

I love that Polagram make it so easy to print off my instagram photos, I just hope this doesn’t mean in a year from now my flat will be a shrine to my Instagram obsession, I must stay calm about this ;)

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*UPDATE* Polagram offer free credit if you enter the code “PGXMG5CW” and place a photo order with them… both you AND me will get 2 free credits, not sure exactly what that equates to but let’s all share the photo printing love ;)

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Debbie Does Devon pt 2… BOOZE AND BEACH

IMG_2402So following on from the last post, after dinner we got ready to see what kind of nightlife Barnstaple had to offer!  We ventured to one of the oldest nightclubs in Barnstaple called Venue, entry was free before midnight (we turned up at 11.55pm) and drinks were an amazing buy one get one free so the girls thinking they ordered 1 jagerbomb and 1 G&T each, actually got two of each, throw in my can of energy drink to keep me awake the entire round of 13 drinks came to a grand total of £21… TAKE THAT LONDON!  This was probably the point I was most depressed about my decision not to drink but downing my vile tasting energy drink I decided to embrace it!

I embraced sober night-clubing by taking lots of pictures and using the dance floor as a kind of work out space, I actually had a lot of fun dancing with my friends and before I knew it, it was 3 am and time to head home!  The club could have been busier and the crowd could have been ‘cooler’ but we still had a great night, the DJ was awesome he played pretty much anything we requested; Bethan got her 90’s Garage, Lindsay her Drum and Bass and Rachel her Ibiza anthems… Venue really did offer something for everyone.

IMG_2394IMG_2413IMG_2412IMG_2395IMG_2396IMG_2397IMG_2393Can you believe it, even though I had a sober night the next morning I still awoke not feeling great, the other girls were all hangover and I was either having sympathy symptoms or the caffeine from the energy drink just didn’t agree with me and made me feel like I was hangover… whatever it was I was not happy and decided a walk in the fresh air will help me and the others feel better.

Our sunday walk was at Saunton Sands, a lovely surfing beach not too far from Barnstaple, we parked up and walked along the beach admiring the freshly painted beach huts and talented wind & kite surfers braving the gales whilst talking about everything and anything until our ears hurt too much from the oncoming wind and we decided to turn back.

The long drive back to London wasn’t so fun, going home never is… but one bonus about going to the beach off-season is the traffic, well lack of traffic ;) before we knew it we were back in the city in time for an early night to start another 9-5 working week.

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Debbie Does Devon pt 1… BIKES AND BOOZE

IMG_2382My friends and I were long due a weekend catch up so we had arranged a weekend get away to the beach… With hindsight maybe October wasn’t the most ideal time to choose for a beach getaway but Rach has a holiday home we could stay in for free and we had no other plans so we all met up after work on Friday for the long drive down to Barnstaple.

Saturday morning was spent at the local market buying fresh ingredients for our dinner followed by a 15-mile round trip cycle along an old railway line from Barnstaple to Instow!  Poor Bethan was a little too small for her bike and had a little accident, which I kindly caught on camera to share with you all below ;)  The bike ride is so easy, very flat and pretty much straight along one cycle path the whole way there and back.

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Arriving at Instow we had intended a bike pub crawl BUT quickly realised we had no lights on the bikes so were limited to an hour in one pub before the sun started to set, we settled for a drink at the Instow Arms, sitting at the front of the bar overlooking the beach (view of which is the header picture of this post) as we drunk, shared a delicious brownie and played a few games of shithead before getting back on the bikes for a 40 minute cycle back to Barnstaple,  we all made a mental note to come back and try some of the great sounding local food the Instow Arms offered if we ever found ourselves back in the area!

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IMG_2385Making it back to Barnstaple in one piece we stopped at the Rolle Quay Inn pub for a pre-dinner darts game of Around The World… I believe I was cheated by the girls not allowing my legitimate throw to the outer bullseye count, they changed the rules that closest to the bullseye win after none of us could land a red bullseye… I was not bitter at all – well done Rach; your shot that broke the board and the other that landed on an entire different wall to the dartboard exemplified your deserving win ;)

Dinner was a knock up of an old favorite Monk fish soft taco recipe Lindsay blogged about years ago, see it here!!!  The same fish monger that supplied the monkfish in the original recipe didn’t have any available so we substituted it with line caught Bass and tiger prawn tails… It still tasted delicious and super healthy.  I failed to mention that whilst the girls had enjoyed a drink or two in the pubs I was completely sober as I have given up alcohol for october!  After diner the sober me joined the tipsy girls to get ready for a night out in Barnstaple, more on that in my next post, I shall leave you now with some food porn of our delicious tasting dinner…

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