Summer Party

So this is really late… but I felt I couldn’t completely leave it out. A few weekends ago I went to one of my best friends’ summer party. To say his family can throw a party is a bit of an understatement – they’re incredible! Usually they aren’t themed but this time was different. Break the mould y’know and the theme was… drum roll please… Tropical! When I got the invite through the door I immediately panicked as I had NO idea what to wear… then as the seasons changed and the new summer stuff came into the shops I noticed EVERYTHING was tropical! Obviously making the whole outfit choosing process even harder with too much choice!

Off to Topshop… Zara… Mango… ASOS… I went.

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Suffolk parties are a kinda big deal – they don’t happen often as everyones too scared of people trashing their house! But when they do they’re B-I-G!

Upon arrival we were greeted with gorgeous cocktails and a floral lei.

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Then came round the canapés – ranging from sushi to oysters to pork kebabs.

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The live band were amazing and the alcohol was flowing all night with little midnight snacks of sausage and chips!

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I sloped off to bed at about 5pm when the sun was coming up… it was safe to say a few people should have done the same!

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Thanks so much for an incredible party – I woke up with an award winning hangover and a horrendous journey back to London.

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The Good Life Eatery

So the Good Life Eatery opened a few months back this year and has had SO much hype. All the ’slebs from Hugh Grant to Millie Mackintosh are regulars at this new little food haven. So to say I was excited was a bit of an understatement. I’ve been following them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – the lot – and the food looks divine.

After a brief stroll down the Kings Road I trundled down Sloane Avenue for brunch and a good catch up with a friend. Good Life Eatery is another one of London’s irritating “no reservation” numbers so we had our fingers crossed for a table. Its also got Nandos style eating – order and take a table number and then sit and wait. So that’s what we did… healthy smoothie in hand.

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Now these smoothies look great don’t they? And for the price of £6 each they bloody well should be. Well, wrong. The red beetroot flavoured one was alright – not ideal but drinkable… however the green one was just awful. It literally tasted how you would think pond slime tastes!

Cool – we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on those bad boys and fingers crossed for the food. My eggs royale came in good time… my friends however didn’t. After a 15 minute wait (I’d polished off my food) and having asked the waiter twice, her food still didn’t arrive. 30 minutes later she was fed.

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Having noticed they completely screwed up we were given a brownie and some weird little chocolate muffin things – thanks but I’d rather have just had our meals at the same time!

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Over all, I definitely don’t think this place is worth the hype. The food was yummy – but hopefully no where can mess up eggs – it wasn’t worth the money or the horrifically long wait we had. I did a little bit of research and found a few people are thinking the same as me… such a shame!

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Harry Potter World

My friends know how Harry Potter obsessed I am… not just a little bit but a LOT. My sister and I are 100% Harry Potter geeks – a pure-blood geek. At home when someone had to go and make the drinks, or pick a movie or any other trivial but annoying chore my sister and I would have a duel! This consisted of shouting Harry Potter spells at each other in quick succession. The first one to not have a spell to mind had to do the chore. A bit like stone, paper, scissors but WAY more fun!

Anyway… for my birthday my sister gave me Harry Potter World tickets… to say I was excited wouldn’t quite cut it. In preparation I stayed in on Friday night so I wasn’t tired or hungover and got up early to be there in time for my tour! This is a VERY picture heavy post… but I just CAN’T leave anything out!

From Watford Junction you jump on a bus (for £2) to Harry Potter world…

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Upon arrival you are greeted by a few of the ACTUAL chess pieces used in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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We were a bit too over excited and arrived a little early so killed time in the gift shop!

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Then on the way into the tour we passed the cupboard under the stairs. In the cupboard it shows one of the first pairs of Harry’s glasses ever used. Apparently Daniel Radcliffe asked to keep a pair as a memento when filming finished.

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After a brief video which features Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe they explain a bit about the tour and what we expect. At this point I felt like a bit of a sponge saturated with Harry Potter knowledge and unable to absorb anything more! Then the great hall doors opened and we walked through to the Great Hall. Each Yorkshire Stone slab was moved from the set to Harry Potter World for us to see. All the costumes are the ACTUAL ones used in filming and everything there was 100% authentic!

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The ceiling of the great hall was made a lot smaller then life size and then fiddled with by the editors.

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All the tapestries in Harry Potter were actually made especially for the films. All the paintings were painted for the films too – none are bought. Some actually feature part of the cast – families, friends, self-portraits… too cool!

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Seeing the animals used in filming was really interesting too. There were short videos on how they trained the animals. A lot of the animals used in the films were rescue animals.

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Half way through there was a bit of a break where you could sit and chill for a bit. It also showed some of the outdoor sets.

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Butter Beer Tash!

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Then back into the tour the second part was about the technical aspects involved – all the facial prosthetics, the technology behind certain characters; Buckbeak, Aragog, the basilisk etc.

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And onto Diagon Alley…

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Then we were shown all the architectural aspects to the design of Harry Potter and his world. These went from the drawings and sketches onto the card models and then onto a large model of Hogwarts itself which was used in lots of the landscape shots.

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This model was enormous and made in such great detail – nothing was missed off.

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Then through to the wand room where there were floor to ceiling shelves of wands. Every single wand here had hand finished labels stuck to the boxes of every person involved in the Harry Potter films – ranging from the cast members to the editing team to make up. Everyone. The attention to detail was insane.

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Harry Potter World was absolutely amazing. It was such a sensory overload and there was too much to take in! The only negative was the price of the gift shop. I feel very sorry for parents! Overhearing one child…

Child: “Daddy, I want a wand”

Father: “No darling, you can’t have a wand you already have 2 at home”

The jumpers were over £60 (yes they were real cashmere blend) but for a nivelyt jumper I thought it was quite expensive. Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans were £8 for a tiny box and scarves were around the £27. I would have happily bought the shop… had I been a millionaire!

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Barrafina, Frith Street

Barrafina is one of those places I have always wanted to go to. I’ve only ever heard good things and recently I’ve become obsessed with sharing food – mainly so I can try a bit of everything! Luckily Barrafina is a tapas style joint so it fit the bill perfectly. Barrafina is nestled in the heart of Soho on Frith Street, and seats around 25 people on a bar that surround the kitchen with a few tables outside for al fresco dining.

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Annoyingly, you cant book so we arrived early to try and get a table – after about a 40 minute wait and a couple of glasses of wine later we were seated outside. Whilst queuing we scoured the menu so when we were seated we knew exactly what we wanted.

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Tuna Tartar with guacamole, this was probably my favourite – it has a gorgeous miso/ Asian tasting marinade and was absolutely de-lish!

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Ham Croquettas – perfectly gooey in the middle and crispy on the outside

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From the specials menu – Monkfish and Peas. Superbly meaty fresh monkfish  – not much to say about the peas… they were green!

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Courgette Flower – wow! Not just any ol’ courgette flower. Drizzled with honey and the flower top was stuffed with goats cheese. Yup, you read that correctly – gooey, mushy tempura goats cheese in the flower. This was insane!

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Another from the specials board – Suckling Pig. After having my own suckling pig in Mallorca for my birthday I was a bit dubious to have more but I was so glad we did. The meat was so tender and juicy and the skin was perfectly “crackling-y” (yup, technical foodie word) without being too fatty and greasy.

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Pluma Iberica with Confit Potatoes – this is probably the best piece of pork I have ever had. It was SO flavoursome. The potatoes were also incredible but almost didn’t get a look in; the meat was so juicy and full of flavour.

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Prawn and Piquillo Pepper Tortilla – this went perfectly with the Iberica pork. The flavor was a bit strange but still really yummy. The texture of the tortilla was really light and fluffy.

No wonder Barrafina has such raving review – the food was incredible and the service was great. Luckily for you guys they are opening a new restaurant in Covent Garden that opens on Monday 7th July. Again, you can’t book but definitely go and check them out here!

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Food Festival, Clapham Common

For all those Clapham resident you would have known about last weekends Food Festival. Although I live in Clapham, and LOVE food, I hadn’t heard anything about it! Luckily, I have friends who are in the know and thank god!

Although it was forecast to be a miserable rainy day it actually turned out to be beautiful. First stop… Champagne!

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Food wise, it was all a bit overwhelming! The infamous Gaucho made an appearance offering some of the best steak cooked fresh in front of you on a huge grill. Unsurprisingly they had one of the longest queues… annoyingly you know thats where the best food is so we decided to get involved!

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It was definitely worth the 25 minute wait… look at the size of my burger – smothered in a garlicky mint olive oil dressing!

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We found a cute little “chill out” spot to settle down and use a base camp while people ferried to and from with new foodie treats.

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Treated by tunes from the resident DJ

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I hope I’m DJ-ing when I’m that age! What a cool lady!

Such a great day and hopefully there will be more events like this on the Common over the summer!

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Polpetto

The last of the birthday celebrations took place last Friday. Not gona lie, I’m pretty gutted its all over to be honest – now I’ve got to wait another 360 days until my next birthday when I have a valid excuse to dine out every night of the week! Anyway… Polpetto was the aim… stuff your face was the game!

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A lil background on Polpetto; it used to be on Dean street on the first floor of the French House pub, but the space was too small and Polpetto had to move. Staying in Soho, head chef, Florence Knight and team have relocated to Berwick Street… a few doors down from the sister restaurant Polpo.

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Very excited friend and I started with a cocktail while we waited for our friends to arrive… the only negative of Polpetto is that they join the “non-booking” clan of restaurants in London. Very annoying for the super organized individuals… me!

As soon as our friend arrived we were shown to our table right in the window, which was absolutely perfect as the rest of the restaurant is quite dark. Plus it meant we could play havoc with the outside world!

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A quick scour of the menu and we were done… basically one of everything! Similarly to Ember Yard, Polpetto goes for a tapas sharing style of eating.

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We started with some grilled focaccia with olive oil – I know its just bread right? But no, this bread was gorgeous. Still warm, not overly chewy or crispy, I could have eaten the lot.

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Until this arrived…

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Burrata, sea blite (aka samphire) and chilli. Burrata is basically a much goo-ier mozzarella. A bit like a mozzarella meets goats curd in one. Paired with the focaccia it was a match made in taste bud heaven.

Then for the most unusual (pretty disgusting) looking dish… slow cooked egg, sorrel and pangritata.

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This didn’t quite take my fancy so I tried a little and handed it to the egg lovers of the table.

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Chicken oysters, cannellini and watercress – this was beautifully cooked. I had no idea chickens had oyster and after the egg I didn’t quite know what to expect. It was light and fresh and gave chicken a more interesting taste.

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Crab linguine  – really rich and flavoursome. Slightly stingy on the crab though!

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Beef shin strozzapreti – probably my favourite dish on the whole menu.

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The meat just fell apart and the rich and creamy dressing on the pasta was incredible – kinda mushroomy but not. I definitely ate more then my fair share!

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Rabbit, celery and wild garlic – I’m not a huge rabbit fan… I mean its nice, and it’s a much leaner option then chicken but it is quite game-y tasting. However, the meat was cooked perfectly and the celery sauce made it less strong.

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Wet polenta – went really well with the rabbit and beautifully cooked. I know it looks a bit like yoghurt, but I promise it was polenta!

A couple of bottles of wine later… pudding is always a good idea right?

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Maple tart with cream as recommended by the waiter – and thank god he did! Super soft and not too filling or sweet.

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Fried pecorino (aka fried cheese) with honey – this was my favourite pudding. I love cheese in any way! Fried cheese wouldn’t normally be a dessert but with honey it made it so sweet and hit that sweet tooth for 6!

I had such a lovely evening and a great catch up with friends. I wish it could be my birthday every day!

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Ember Yard

My birthday celebrations continued again last night… yes, I’m like Paris Hilton with about 5 birthday parties! This time it was exactly how I liked it – closest of friends and some epic food and wine. Time Out readers will know that Ember Yard was their “hot off the press” place to go a couple of months back. Time Out readers will also know that as soon as a restaurant gets this status you can’t get a table for love nor money. Give it a couple of months and boom – you’re in!

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We started with the menu and a small side of peppers padron while we perused the rest of the menu. Ember Yard is tapas style dining and takes its inspiration from Spanish and Italian ways of cooking – over charcoal.

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I basically wanted everything on the menu #standard! However, we were very restrained.

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Broad Bean, Smoked Ricotta and Mint Croquettes with Wild Garlic Pesto

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Chargrilled Cornish Mackerel with Warm Mussel Escabeche, Piquillo and Sea Purslane

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Chargrilled Squid with Pancetta, Peas and Chilli

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Oak smoked Aylesbury Duck with Green and Yellow Courgettes and Nettle Butter

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Hot Smoked Butternut Squash with Goats’ Curd and Grape Jam

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Oak Smoked Beef Bavette with Cauliflower Purée, Chargrilled Tropea Onions, Shallot and Jamón Vinaigrette

After all that, the savoury tooth was more then satisfied. BUT, what do girls like? Other then diamonds? Dessert! In the sharing mood we held back and got a couple of desserts to share.

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White Chocolate Mousse, Pickled Loquats, Honeycomb and Mint

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Muscovado Panna Cotta with Thyme Shortbread, Milk Sorbet and Lemon

I literally can’t express how good the food was. My personal favourites were the chargrilled squids and the croquettes – I probably could have eaten my body weight in those! Three GREAT things about Ember yard which will mean that I will definitely come back are:

1. You can book – none of that queuing outside in the rain to make the place look more popular

2. It was SUCH good value for money – you can see what we ordered, plus a couple of bottles of wine and a tip and it came to £41 each which I think for a birthday treat is definitely worth it.

3. They donate part of your bill to a homeless charity. I think this is such a humbling thing to do. We can afford to eat at these amazing places and some people wouldn’t even give a second thought to those less fortunate. Plus, Ember Yard don’t make a song and dance about it and just have a little note on your bill to let you know.

A couple of bottles of wine later, sore cheeks and stomach from laughing so hard we pulled ourselves away and headed home happy bunnies. I don’t know what was better the food or the company!

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Golden Dragon, Chinatown

Finding a restaurant to please the whole Harrison clan isn’t a job I’d wish on my worst enemy! Mother wants swanky… Father wants a burger… Sister wants edgy… other sister doesn’t care… me? I want some food porn and something blog worthy. Yes, you can see my dilemma right?

Where to go to fulfil everyones desires… Chinatown. Hong Kong born and bred with parents who lived there over 30 years a Chinese banquet ticks all nostalgic boxes.

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I was recommended this gem by a reliable source. By day at the Golden Dragon you can’t get a table without a 20 minute queue… yes the staff are rude to you… and you may not get served straight away but we didn’t come for the service. We came for the food!

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Upon arrival I was greeted with a very weird little custard tart fish from my sister… with the promise that they were “amazing” mmmm… good one! 

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For a quick appetiser we started with some crispy Peking duck (Golden Dragon’s speciality), prawn toast and spring rolls… I don’t think my parents understand blogging and started munching away before I had the chance to say anything… hence the half eaten prawn toast and only one spring roll!

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Let the banquet begin…

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Chicken and Cashew Nuts

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Szechuan Chilli Prawns

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Special Fried Rice

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Choi Sum (Chinese Greens similar to Pak Choi)

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Chilli and garlic squid

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Honey Barbecue Pork (similar to Char Sui Pork)

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Dry Beef Ho Fun

Okay so this food may not be up the food porn sank bank but it tasted bloody good. I would highly recommend Golden Dragon to the people who maybe aren’t sure where to eat in Chinatown. It can be a bit overwhelming! A perfect way to celebrate my quarter life crisis with the family!

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Birthday Celebrations, Mallorca

Last Sunday was a special day… well for me anyway as it was my birthday! I turned 25 on the 25th (dun dun dun dun, dun dun dun dun – that’s alien speak for wow!) and was lucky enough to wake up in Mallorca. The Boy and I jetted off late on Thursday night to Mallorca with a few friends for a short weekend break and to make the most of the bank holiday/ my birthday… Lets not forget that!

Before a flight I always call my parents to say that I’m off and I love them – incase anything bad happens – and my rather wise father said the most profound thing to me…

ME: “Waaa, I’m 25 and can feel a quarter life crisis on the cards in about 2 days time” (my birthday was in 2 days…)

Mr HARRISON: “Look darling, your 25, and no you may not have made your first million, or be on the Forbes 100 but all you should want to be is happy”

ME: silence… and contemplative…

Mr HARRISON: “And, think of it this way… your younger then 3 of my cars!”

He never fails to disappoint!

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Sentimentality to one side and back to Mallorca. This post is VERY food heavy… as most of my holiday posts are… but while I’m away all I want to do is eat! We started the night off with some minute steaks, salad, aubergine and tomato, sausages and a potato salad.

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The next day for the girls consisted of tanning… tanning… and more tanning… while the boys went off for a day long cycle. 

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Birthday day was a VERY exciting day! Rather then eating out for dinner we decided to go to the local butcher and order a suckling pig with all the trimmings. 

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I know lots of people will think its “mean” or “cruel” but to be honest – it tasted SO good you couldn’t complain. Mumma brought home the bacon!

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After lunch (saving the little piggy for dinner) the boys and I went for a bit of an expedition… mainly for them to show off how far they cycled and how high they climbed! We drove to the top of this pretty huge (I’ll give them that) mountain to a fort which had some of the most incredible panoramic views of Mallorca. 

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Kaftan – Melissa Odabash, Sunnies – Ray Ban

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Finishing off at the beach…

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Hat – Accessorize, Sunglasses – Ray Ban,  Bikini – Vix, Kaftan – Melissa Odabash, Shorts – Vintage Levis (similar here), Beach Bag – Cath Kidston

By the time we got back it was party time! 

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Dinner came with potatoes and a bottle of bubbly… the poor lil guy doesn’t photo too well!

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Post dinner escalated pretty quickly… a few bottles of wine, bubbly and vodka later everything becomes a bit of a blur!

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Possibly the best way to bring in a quarter life crisis.

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Powder Keg Diplomacy, St Johns Hill

Last night was a bit of a Sunday night treat. The boy and I went along to the final part of the Fabulous Feast on St John’s Hill and to be honest I am so glad we did. I have heard a lot of good reviews about the Powder Keg Diplomacy so was really happy to see that they were involved in the event. After a long day in the sunshine (probably too long to be honest) we peeled our sunburnt bodies off the common and trundled up to Powder Keg.

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Top – Warehouse (similar here & here), Trousers – H&M, Sandals – Birkenstock from Cloggs - here, Bag – Mulberry, Necklace – Zara (sold out but similar here – probably my new favourite necklace!)

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From the outside Powder Keg Diplomacy doesn’t look like anything special but from the inside it really is.

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We were handed the Sunday menu and I was really taken a back at how vast it was! It would be rude not to get a Sunday roast on a Sunday right?!

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11. Powder Keg Diplomacy + St Johns Hill + Clapham + wine + rose

We started off with a few oysters… these lil suckers are a bit of a novelty – I have only ever had them once so was a bit dubious!

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I can’t say I’ll try them a third time… I don’t think they’re to my taste…

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They definitely were to someone else’s though!

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Then for starters I had, *surprise, surprise* scallops!  Which were divine. Perfectly chewy with salmons roe in a prawn bisque.

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And on the other side of the table was baked crab, and sour dough toast. I wasn’t offered to try any so I’m assuming it was too good to share!

I didn’t share my scallops either!

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When the roasts arrived I was so surprised – look at that massive Yorkshire pudding! A perfectly cooked pork belly with a crunchy, crispy skin. The meat literally tasted of butter and just melted in your mouth. I was so impressed.

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Then to share we had some roasties, caramelised onions with mustard and some greens.

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The food was divine and the restaurant was really different. There was so much to look at. I would really recommend this place – perfect for a Sunday lunch or brunch with the family or friends. Great for a date and for the alfresco diner as theres a gorgeous outside area on the street. I’ll defo be back!

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