Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Review: Worsley Marriott - The Best Hotel Breakfast in the North West?


So today I'm talking breakfast.

I'll be honest, breakfast isn't something I usually get excited about. More often than not, I'll tend to scoff down a packet of breakfast biscuits or have a bit of bland cereal at work for nothing more than a little fuel 'til lunchtime - on a weekend, I might treat myself to a bit of toast, that's your lot.

However, a hotel breakfast is a WHOLE other story. I think it's probably because I've usually paid for it within my room rate (and you know, get what you can for your money *read* typically tight northerner) and so it seems perfectly reasonable to eat as much as humanly possible at the breakfast buffet...

Skinflintedness aside, perhaps it's more the veritable wealth of tantalising and varied options available at most hotel buffets that does it for me. I mean, being presented with an array of breakfast items of the savoury, sweet, hot and cold varieties certainly put my plain Shredded Wheat (other boring wheat-based cereals are available) with almond milk to shame.

And so what usually ensues goes a little like this; "I'll start with a bit of toast with my coffee", "ooh I think I'm going to go continental! A few pastries with some meat, cheese and yogurt", "well I might as well have a bowl of cereal too", "that fruit looks too fresh and amazing to miss out on", "I suppose a bit of cooked breakfast won't hurt either, I need to set myself up for the day after all!" You get the picture.

Anyway, hopefully this gives some understanding of my unhealthy, irrational love of a hotel breakfast so when I heard that a hotel on our doorstep in Manchester had been voted 'The Best Breakfast in the North West' by search site, Trivago - I knew I had to check it out*...

We started with some delicious fresh pastries, of which there were several varieties, along with some strong coffee, of course.

I also decided on some fresh fruit and greek yogurt before moving onto the cooked options. There was certainly a lot of choice in this area; toast with all kinds of preserves, cereals with a broad range of toppings like nuts and seeds, porridge, muffins, cheeses and breads, as well a good choice of gluten free options.

However, I did my best to be restrained in order to leave some room for our host, Mark's recommendation - a made to order, fresh omelette from the central omelette bar.

I didn't need much convincing in choosing the house special which was made with locally sourced black pudding and blue cheese - two things I absolutely love!

Chris went for the same choice and we both agreed it was one of the best omelettes we'd tasted. We were so full after the omelettes which proved to be a tasty and satisfying set-up to the day!

Now, it would be fair to say that living in Manchester, neither of us has much call to stay over locally and it's therefore hard to say for sure whether this really is the best hotel breakfast in the North West!

What I can say is that the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club makes a damn good breakfast!

Do you go to town on a breakfast buffet?


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Review: barn//it Hair & Beauty Super Salon, Manchester


I'm always game for trying new hair and beauty treatments in Manchester, which is great as there's always new salons popping up the city.

However a new kid on the block really caught my eye recently with their interesting 'super salon' concept.

barn//it* isn't your usual run-of-the-mill hair salon offering a few beauty treatments on the side, oh no. barn//it is touted as a real 'destination'; catering for pretty much all imaginable hair and beauty services under one roof - and with no less than five floors.

Fronted by celebrity hair stylist, Andrew Trott-Barn (putting the Barn into barn//it) and housed in a listed building on centrally located John Dalton Street, barn//it seems like the perfect addition to Manchester, cutting through the noise of 'samey' chain salons.

I popped down to try out one of their beauty services.

For a salon boasting five floors, barn//it actually feels really personal and perfectly formed. Each floor feels like its own tranquil (and especially stylish) oasis.

Having toured all the floors, the jewel in the salon's crown is undoubtedly the nail room. Kitted out with a full length bar serving specially created cocktails with your manicure, it's a brilliant way to spend a girly afternoon.

The fantastic, Lucy performed my treatment of choice: semi-permanent eyelashes, which I wanted to try out in advance of my wedding in July.

She totally put me at ease and I was so impressed with her level of knowledge of eyelash treatments - I truly felt that I was in the hands of an eyelash guru.

I had no idea what to expect with the treatment but Lucy explained every stage to me. I am normally a nightmare with anything around my eyes as they are ridiculously sensitive (to light, pressure, touching, pain!) but I was surprised at how comfortable I was during the treatment - especially as gluing the individual lashes to my own takes almost an hour.

I write this just as the very last of my semi-permanent lashes are hanging on. I looked after them as best I could following Lucy's advice and I'd say they still looked great after two and a half weeks. Take a look at the results below!

I was genuinely so so pleased with them. I completely boycotted false lashes for nights out a long time ago as I discovered that applying them was just not my forte... Because of this, I was a little scared of them looking too 'fake', especially as I was trying them out for a wedding day-through-to-honeymoon look, so asked Lucy to make them really natural.

There was no fakeness whatsoever - my lashes simply looked full, thick, dark and voluminous, with no need for mascara.

I'll certainly be back for these again and might even be bold enough to go slightly longer!

Have you ever tried semi-permanent lashes?


Sunday, 26 February 2017

A Date Night With Manchester Printworks


As we've just seen Valentine's Day come and go, I thought it'd be a good time to talk date nights!

With the wedding fast approaching, we're (attempting) not going out as much so when we do decide upon a little treat, it's nice to get the most out of it.

The Printworks in Manchester city centre recently invited me* to the complex to experience a classic 'date night' there.

Now, The Printworks isn't somewhere I'd immediately think to go on a date (to me, it used to conjure up first year students and stag do's) but after a little investigation, I found that they recently added Busaba, a brilliant Thai chain, to their culinary line up and having had a great meal their at one of their popular London restaurants and the promise of watching the fantastic La La Land at the Odeon afterwards, I was sold!

My first impression of the Manchester Busaba branch was that the atmosphere was actually better than the one I'd previously visited in London! The decor at Busaba is contemporary and stylish - and this one felt a little more intimate than I'd found before. In London, the restaurant I went to was made up of more casual, larger 'sharing' tables where you sit with other diners; this one seemed to be well suited to couples and smaller groups. Better still, we were given a fantastic table on the top floor by the window, looking out onto the hustle and bustle of Manchester's night-time centre.


We perused the drinks menu and I knew immediately that I wanted to try a cocktail before any food arrived. Fancying something a little different, I went for a Lychee Martini - I wasn't disappointed!

Chris decided to try the Saison beer, a pale ale brewed especially for Busaba by the Hop Kettle Brewing Co. with hints of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fresh ginger and tamarind, giving it a really unique but subtle Thai flavour.

We were both really impressed with the beer and I quickly moved onto drinking it too! It complemented the food so well and we were a bit gutted that you could only get your hands on it at Busaba - it was that good!


There were loads of dishes we could've chose to start but we finally agreed on the 'Fragrant Fried Chicken' and the 'Thai Calamari' (which I'd heard loads of good things about).

The fried chicken was beautiful; really juicy with a lightly spiced, crispy coating. It paired perfectly with the tangy lemongrass and chilli dipping sauce on the side.

The Thai Calamari was even better! It looked totally different from what I expected - coated in ginger and green peppercorns, it came as meaty chunks of calamari as opposed to the rings that most might be used to. It had a crispy texture delicious flavour thanks to its sticky glaze. I can see what makes this one a favourite among regular visitors of Busaba!

Main Course

I decided that for the main, I was going to try one of the 'Bangkok Specials' - a collection of new dishes, created in line with emerging trends in Thai food.

I opted for the 'Drunken Beef Flat Noodle', a dish made up of slow cooked beef chunks and thick, flat rice noodles. Oh my, this was so tasty. The flavours were like a Thai yellow curry but it felt all the more satisfying with the thick, tasty noodles and richness of the beef - real comfort food.

Chris went for the 'Tamarind Grilled Duck', sliced breast meat with Chinese broccoli, tamarind sauce and sticky rice on the side. The duck was beautifully cooked with a slight pinkness but with sticky, chargrilled edges and that gorgeous sticky sauce.

We would've loved to stay for dessert but it was almost time for our film!

Film: La La Land at the Odeon

I was really looking forward to this one. I'd heard rave reviews from friends but was having a hard time in convincing Chris to go, he hates musicals...

I told him that if he wanted to join me for the meal, he'd have to watch the film too! And guess what? Mr no-musicals loved it (as did I)!

It's The Oscars tonight and I'm fully expecting La La Land to secure several Academy Awards (I'm predicting Emma Stone for Best Actress!).

Polka dot dress - Joanie Clothing

I thoroughly enjoyed our date night at The Printworks, I'd forgotten how much fun an old-fashioned 'dinner and a movie' date was!

When was the last time you did 'date night' properly?


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Roses are Red: Romantic Wrap Dress & Market Days


As it's Valentine's Day, I wanted to post about this romantic look featuring a red rose print wrap dress from Joy.

Not everyone is such a fan of Valentine's. Personally while I'm not a fan of the commercial side, I really like the sentiment it can bring out and I think anything which prompts a bit more expression of love and makes people appreciate and celebrate the love they feel for others is fine by me!

Valentine's Day will now forever be of a greater significance to me as on this day last year, I got engaged! It's now just five months (tomorrow) until we get married which has come up soo quickly.

Fedora hat - Primark
Floral wrap dress - Joy the Store
Boots - Topshop

I wore this for a stroll around Altrincham market on a crisp Saturday morning.

I think this is the first time I've posted about the market. We moved to Altrincham in May last year and I honestly feel so lucky to be able to stroll up the road and find all this on my doorstep!

When we moved, we were looking to move somewhere a little nicer (we'd been living in Manchester student central a.k.a Fallowfield for nearly five years!) where it was easy to pop out for a nice drink or meal. I was a little dubious about moving further out of the city but with us being at the end of the tram line, going into Manchester city centre is just a short ride away.

I'm a big fan of a market in general - but Altrincham's is next level! It's won various awards and has put this little South Manchester town firmly on the map.

My favourite vendors at the market have to be Honest Crust (the BEST wood-fired pizzas), Wolfhouse Kitchen (where the dreamy lattes and hazelnut chocolate cannolis above are from), Merri (for cute illustrated stationary) and Chloe Robinson Flowers.

Have you visited the market - which stalls are your favourite?


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Review: Oh You Pretty Things! Afternoon Tea at the Trafford Centre


I had a fabulous little day out a couple of weeks ago - and at the Trafford Centre no less!

Usually the Trafford Centre on a weekend would be an absolute no go. I like to avoid stress and crowds on the weekends wherever possible, so the idea of pushing past crazy shoppers, hearing the cries of shrieking children and being blinded by artificial lighting isn't really my idea of a great time.

Did I mention that I'm getting married this year? (sarcastic lols) Well I've been dying for an opportune moment to be converted to the ways of Jo Malone, after hearing (and smelling) wonderful things from friends. As getting married seems to be a license for spending too much money on frivolous things (*cough*), I thought it seemed like a good time to splurge on a 'bridal' fragrance and so with one of my bridesmaids in tow, I booked in at the Selfridges Jo Malone counter.

We had the most fabulous Bridal Consultation appointment with the lovely, Kerry who picked out a number of fragrances for us both to try and gave us hand and arm massages, plus a glass of bubbly. I really loved their approach of trying to find a 'fit' by asking about your likes, dislikes and general personality. I was genuinely massively impressed that Kerry hit the nail on the head with the first fragrance she suggested for me! Walking out with a new perfume and smelling, frankly, incredible - we were ready to eat!

I'd been asked to try out Oh You Pretty Things* - a new champagne and cocktail bar on the top floor of The Orient and so it seemed like a good idea to turn our appointment into a fun girly day out.

For those familiar with the Trafford Centre, The Orient is where the Food Court is located - probably the busiest part of the whole centre in the early hours of the afternoon!

Feeling relaxed from our appointment at Jo Malone, stepping into the OYPT bar was in fact, the perfect transition.

The bar distinctly feels like it's very much for 'grown-ups'. There are a lot of family-style restaurants dotted around, even on the upper floor but OYPT feels like a real oasis away from the hustle and bustle.

Sitting down on the modern chrome and cream bar stools, I found myself wondering where else in the Trafford Centre could you go for a nice glass of prosecco or a great cocktail?

We were there to try OYPT's signature Afternoon Tea - a steal I would add at just £19.95 for two, or £24.95 with the addition of prosecco.

We started with a pot of tea, before the main event was brought out.

For the price, we were seriously impressed!

There was definitely an ample amount of food for the two of us. The sandwiches were a good size and well filled (I hate it when you get an afternoon tea with just one or two teeny sandwich each!).

The mini cakes on the top tier were also pleasant and the fresh berries were a nice addition too. I wasn't so sure that the handfuls of Japanese rice crackers really belonged but the whole thing was great to nibble at while chatting.

The scones were great and came with a huge pot of cream and jam each. A scone covered in cream and jam is always the highlight of any Afternoon Tea for me!

We also tried a couple of cocktails from the drinks menu and I can highly recommend the Candy Floss Martini, an infusion of raspberry vodka, butterscotch schnapps and Chambord - topped with a piece of real fluffy, sugary candy floss.

While OYPT's Afternoon Tea isn't the best I've had and is unlikely to stand up to those you might get at a fancy country hotel, for £19.95 for TWO (that's less than a tenner each!) you seriously can't go wrong. I might add that I've often paid more than that for something beige, hurriedly thrown onto a plastic tray in the downstairs eating area...

If you find yourself at the Trafford Centre with a friend or two and fancy a great drink and a bit of tranquillity, I would highly recommend the Oh You Pretty Things bar - the staff were absolutely superb too!

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