Featured

The Classic Treat

Weekends. How precious they are. Come 5pm on a Friday evening the whole weekend lies ahead of you; a glorious 48 hours to be filled with whatever takes your fancy. Yet it can be taken away so quickly, eaten up by ‘adult things’ such as cleaning (who wants to clean midweek?), trips to the tip (after moving into our own home we always seem to hoard copious amounts of cardboard) and catching up with friends who no longer live in one place.

The one question I never seem to be able to find the answer to is why do 48 hours at work never pass by at the same speed? If you can’t slow down time then you might as well fill it with niceties, especially when you’ve been working all week long.

A quintessentially English pastime has to be afternoon tea, which has evolved recently from simple tea, sandwiches, cakes and scones to afternoon tea for men (here’s a few suggestions) and every theme you could think of (there’s even a space themed one).

This year my favourite Disney film was re-made into a live action blockbuster starring Emma Watson and has to be one of my favourite films of the year (I saw it twice). Imagine my delight when I was informed that there is a Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea at the Kensington Hotel called ‘Tale as Old as Time’ (click here to find out more) which, you guessed it, serves up treats that pay homage to this classic love story.

afternoon tea

Almost too good to eat? Of course not, all good things have to come to an end!

I’ve tried out quite a few afternoon teas over the last couple of years and what I loved about this one (apart from the theme which just elevates afternoon tea to a whole new level) was that it was served in courses. The first course was savoury: Bite-Sized Venison Pie, Cheese Souffle with Roscoff Onion Pissaladiere, and a Beef Ragu & Saffron Arancini served with Lemon Creme Fraiche.

20171104_141429.jpg

Then they brought out a cute array of Beauty & the Beast themed sweets: Vanilla & Gold Jelly presented in shot glasses with the ever-symbolic rose petal immersed inside, served with cream poured from Mrs. Potts spout; ‘try the grey stuff it’s delicious’ White Chocolate Mousse; Spiced Snow Ball Macaroon; Coconut & Chocolate and a marzipan Cogsworth face cheekily grinning back at you.

This was also served with finger sandwiches (a staple classic) and brioche baguettes with chocolate spread, which made a welcome change to scones.

The overall quality of the items was excellent however some were lacking flavour. The Vanilla & Gold Jelly tasted of nothing and the ‘try the grey stuff it’s delicious’ chocolate mousse again was quite bland, which was disappointing as it was presented beautifully in a Chip mug. However, I’d give 10/10 for presentation and creativity, as all the items linked in well with the film and made the whole experience very fun and Instagrammable. I kept waiting patiently for someone to come out dressed as the Beast, as that would have made my day…maybe the Kensington Hotel could add in an extra part of the package, a meet and greet the Beast! No? Just me? Perhaps not classy enough for SW7…

20171104_143658.jpg

The props were brilliant!

The price of this afternoon tea from 1st January 2018 is £38.50, which has gone up from the £35.00 we paid recently. Some may find this a disgusting price for tea, cakes and sandwiches but I think it’s worth the price tag for something so unique and we easily spent 2 hours there, so you can make a day out of it. Also, the hotel itself is lovely with warm, friendly and attentive staff plus you’re not crammed in like some other afternoon tea venues.

Now to finish it all off, some of my favourite quotes from the film:

“Take it with you so you’ll always have a way to look back … and remember me.” – Beast

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell!”– Belle

“She warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.” – Narrator

“Here’s where she meets Prince Charming, but she won’t discover that it’s him ’til chapter three!” – Belle

I’m always on the lookout for other unique Afternoon Tea experiences so please comment below!

 

 

Advertisements
Featured

The Wandering Path

I’m going to be 26 next month. Not a milestone birthday but one that has got me thinking. I honestly think the ages of 21-30 are some of the toughest years of your life and here’s why…

Let’s reflect:

Ages 0-12: time goes ever so slowly as a kid and those years are filled with excitement, new experiences and hope for the future.

Ages 12-16: admittedly life does get a little tough at these ages (thank you puberty) but you get to see your friends every day at school and even though you have to do exams you’re still hopeful for what the future brings.

Ages 16-21: exams still loom on the horizon but even though you may be a student you still have your mum and dad to fall back on for moral (and maybe financial) support. You’re at the age where you literally don’t have any money but are still feverishly excited at what passing exams/graduating/starting your first job may bring.

Then you have this period between ages 21 and 30 where so much is expected of you. As soon as you start climbing the career ladder you feel like you need to start achieving more (whether that be by buying your first house, getting married, having kids for example) whilst at the same time you are desperately trying to figure out whether what you are doing with your life is right.

And who knows what is ‘right’? I’ve realised recently that at aged 25 I am still so young and have it all ahead of me. There’s no rush to try and figure everything out and although I don’t want to just ‘go with the flow’, I certainly do not need to start meticulously planning every small detail.

My partner sent me this image a couple of weeks ago and it put everything into perspective:

IMG-20170821-WA0000 (1)

As the image illustrates, there are people like J K Rowling who for years didn’t have enough money and survived on benefits. But she kept on grafting and kept on believing and then she made it big. My view on this is the fact that she didn’t ‘have it all’ in the first place was what kept her so driven because she needed that break. She most likely wouldn’t have had that determination in her early-mid twenties.

The squiggle in this image is sometimes how I feel; a little unsure due to wandering thoughts about who I want to ‘be’.

I’ve finally realised that there is no true path to success and you certainly don’t need to feel like you’ve done it all by the time you are 30. A lot of people find inspiration in other areas of their lives; such as when they have kids or when they’re going through a tough time mentally or financially.

Life wasn’t designed to be mapped out. Think about our cavemen ancestors and how they simply lived day by day, with little choices or decisions to be made. It is the modern world that has made us constantly strive to be better (social media, you are to blame) and there is certainly no problem with ambition (if there was no ambition we would still be stuck as cavemen!) but once in a while it’s healthy to take a step back and think ‘hey, I’m doing okay’.

Please leave your comments below. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on what you deem ‘success’ to look like.

 

 

Featured

The Foot on the Ladder

At the start of this year if someone had said to me that I would have my own house I would never had believed them.

But that’s the crazy thing about life; it can take a turn and lead you down a different path and that’s what is so exciting.

Our house is more than I would have expected for a first time home. Somehow we’ve struck it lucky and have 3 bedrooms, a wonderful garden and enough space to swing a cat in but it has been a product of a number of years of hard work and saving, which is by no means easy.

 

IMG_20170722_123745_345

Our beautiful garden!

We managed to complete on our house within 6 weeks of putting in an offer, which I understand from talking to different people is absolutely crazy!

Getting on the housing ladder is difficult but statistics show that in 2006 just over a third (36%) of all house purchases financed by a mortgage were made by first-time buyers. In 2016, this proportion is estimated to have reached almost half (49%), the highest level since 1996.

So as more and more people strive to own their first home, I wanted to share what I’ve learnt about the whole process…

  1. Get your finances into shape. This is so, so, so important as mortgage lenders have tightened their belts since the financial crash of 2007/2008 and you need to be able to present to them the best financial version of yourself. The best place to start is Clear Score which is free to sign up to and helps you identify areas which you may need to review before submitting your mortgage application. For example, you should be on the electoral roll at your current address and this needs to match on your credit report. If your credit score is not too great then I would seriously consider building this up before starting the mortgage process. I helped my partner go from a score in the 200/300 mark to him now having a score higher than mine just by ensuring he was on the electoral roll for our previous address and clearing as much credit card debt as possible. He obviously learnt from the best 😉
  2. Research. Having never bought a house before I had no clue about what happens in the different stages. The Money Advice Service has some amazing guides which explain the whole process clearly.  This one I found particularly helpful as it broke down the different stages.
  3. Mortgage Broker. For first timers I think it is best to use a mortgage broker. They have access to a wide range of products and as they know the market, they can advise whether your end goal is achievable or not dependent on your budget. The whole mortgage process can be stressful, so we found it great to have a mortgage broker to ‘lean on’ when deadlines were tight. One thing I’ve learnt is that personal recommendations are priceless, as our mortgage broker and solicitor were suggested by family members who had used their services before so they were tried and tested.
  4. Prioritise. You need to sit down and work out what is important to you as there are so many factors to consider when buying a house. We initially said we wanted a property in the country after living in a flat in the centre of town. But it’s important to not become narrow-minded and to view a range of properties, as you may totally change your mind. In the end, we own a property that was built in 2010 (we initially said we didn’t want a ‘newish build’) yet it is a new development that has a village feel, with country walks nearby but a 20 minute drive to the nearest town. The perfect balance! We realised that being in our twenties we need good road links for employment and socialising…living out in the country is beautiful but it would soon become a chore having to drive miles to get anywhere.
  5. Extra costs. Getting on the housing ladder is expensive. It does pay to be organised and sit down to work out how much stamp duty you may have to pay on a property (this handy calculator can work it out for you). There’s also solicitor and mortgage broker fees, council tax (I Googled the property address plus ‘council tax’ and managed to find a rough estimation), removal fees (we luckily had our families help us out which saved us quite a bit of money), decoration costs not forgetting the bills that will start arriving sooner or later! It pays to log onto a comparison site like this one to see if you can bring the cost of your energy bills down.

 

2017 for me will always be the year of the house. Hopefully this blog post will encourage you to take the leap, work your butts off and get yourself on the housing ladder!

hard-work-quote-2