Lush Oxford Street

Earlier this year, the biggest Lush shop in the world opened on London’s Oxford Street — three floors of bath bombs and bubble bars, shower creams and scrubs, face masks, moisturisers and more!

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Of course I paid a visit when I was in the area. How could I not?! As we walked down the city’s busiest shopping street, I could smell the shop before I could even see it. I’d know that intensely sweet powdery scent anywhere!

As you enter on to the ground floor, you’re met with tables and shelves loaded with an assortment of skincare and haircare products. Walk down the stairs to the spa area where you can indulge in a treatment, explore their perfumes and candles and listen to some chilled-out tunes. On the first floor, it’s bath bomb central with some oils and gift-sets thrown in for good measure.

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This flagship store boasts over 200 exclusive-to-Oxford-Street items. Since we were carrying on — rather than checking in — luggage on our flight home, I wanted to avoid liquids. Instead, I opted for two beautiful bath bombs.

The Experimenter is a fun and chunky uniquely-shaped piece. As soon as it hits the water, it basically becomes a rainbow! Half a dozen different colours appear and swirl around the bath as it fizzes away. Sadly, the multitude of shades eventually merge to become one murky result. It does, however, leave skin super-soft and it smells lovely with hints of vanilla throughout so I certainly wouldn’t dismiss it altogether!

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The second bath bomb I chose was Intergalactic. I absolutely loved this one, it has become an instant Lush favourite of mine! It immediately looks appealing; a richly-coloured sphere speckled with glitter. It turned the water the deepest shade of blue…and it stayed that way until the very end. It smells minty and citrusy and again, it has a very moisturising feel to it.

Just a warning: both of these bath bombs will leave tons of glitter in your tub so be prepared to scrub it later (but it’s worth it, promise!).

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I loved the products I brought home although I wish I’d been able to pick up more (I’m checking in a bag next time I go to London, for sure!). Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to the Oxford Street Lush store — if you’re in central London, it’s definitely worth stopping by!

Taste of London 2015

As you may well know if you’re a regular reader, I was in London recently. I had the best time visiting the city and thanks to AEG, Curry’s and Joe Blogs; I was given the opportunity to attend Taste of London while I was over there. I had only been to Taste of Dublin the weekend before so I was really excited to see how they compared!

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The event was held in Regent’s Park over five days. To suit our schedule as best we could, my boyfriend and I chose to attend the Friday afternoon session.

Since we were only in the city a few days, we had been trying to fit in as much as possible. I had aimed to be at the event for 1pm but between rushing about ourselves and then trying to find the right place; we didn’t arrive until after 2pm! I have to admit I was cursing myself for not being more organized! Still, we had two hours ahead of us and I was determined to make the most of them!

Things were immediately looking up when we were presented with VIP tickets on arrival.  These allowed us access to the Taste VIP lounge, a complimentary glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne and a fantastic free recipe book.

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As we entered, we could immediately see that the event was in full swing and the whole place was buzzing. People of all ages were about and there was so much to see and do, we hardly knew where to start!

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Stall after stall offered all sorts of delicious food and drink samples. On-site, there was over thirty different representations of some of London’s best restaurants.

Some of the sample-sized dishes available from these restaurants included smoked and fried wings from Barbecoa; Punjabi spiced cod from The Cinnamon Club; hot cheese balls from Pont St; slow-cooked apple-smoked pork belly from The House of Ho; seafood ceviche from Lima Floral….

There was also tons of incredible desserts to tempt us all such as lemon posset from L’Autre Pied; salted caramel soft serve from Tredwell’s; torrijas with orange syrup from José Pizarro.

As well as that; most of the restaurants had a special “icon dish” on offer too. They were more expensive but also more exclusive — think lobster mac and cheese from Bluebird Chelsea; Ibérico pork and foie gras burger from Ember Yard; grilled octopus from Mazi…I really liked this idea, it’s not something that I’ve ever seen at Taste of Dublin but it’s something fun and interesting!

After much browsing, I eventually chose to get a burger from Shake Shack. To be more specific, it was a custom-blend Aberdeen Angus beef patty, topped with British free range Wiltshire smoked bacon and smothered in Shack cheddar and American cheese sauce. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds!

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We had less than two hours at the event (again, totally my fault!) so time absolutely flew by. To start, we did a couple of laps of the venue to try and see as much as possible; then we caught a cooking demo at the AEG taste theatre and finally we stopped for some champagne in the VIP lounge! Along the way, we got to try lots of lovely samples.

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As well as the restaurants, there was 200 producers and premium brands to explore. Some I was familiar with like Innocent, Propercorn and Lindt. Then there were those that were completely new to me like Drunken Dairy, Piebury Corner and Patisserie Sainte-Anne. Everything was so tempting; it was pure foodie heaven!

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Before we knew it, time was up so we made sure to pick up some treats to take away on our way out. We got muffins, doughnuts, pastries (y’know all the healthy stuff) and sat on the grass at the edge of the park. Sitting in the sun, watching the crowds stream out and binging on sugary goods from some of London’s best bakeries…it was the perfect way to end a wonderful afternoon!

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I have to say thank you again to AEG for looking after us. It worked out so well that this event happened to be on at the same time that we were visiting London. It was a fantastic experience and it’s become a really memorable part of our trip. I’m honestly so tempted to fly back for the next Taste of London…perfect excuse for another trip to my favourite city!

London: Part One!

Back in 2013, I took a little trip to Barcelona and blogged all about it. I loved sharing this experience and it was well received on here too so I wanted to do the same again now that I’m recently returned from London!

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We spent four days in this gorgeous city and we tried to squeeze in as much as we could while we were there. We were so ambitious and had a ton of things we wanted to do. Of course there are only so many hours in the day (and so many steps that we can walk!) so we didn’t get to do everything but we still managed a hell of a lot!

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We did loops of the city on tour buses, took in Oxford Street and all its surroudings, caught a film in Leicester Square, explored the Dungeons, went on the the Eye, browsed Camden market, stopped by Regent’s Park, shopped in Westfield, wandered around Notting Hill….

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While we were over there, we stayed in Hotel Xanadu in Ealing, west London. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel on a quiet street, less than ten minutes away from the tube station. From there, it took about thirty minutes to get to central London — not really too far but still a bit of a journey, especially when you’re only there for a short while. In hindsight, we probably should have opted to stay somewhere more central since we were only there to sightsee for a few days. Still though, since we were so exhausted every night, it was good to come back to a really comfortable and peaceful hotel at the end of the day.

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Overall, it was just a really fantastic trip. Although it may look cloudy, it was so hot when we were there (my poor other half was resembling a lobster by the end of the second day!). The weather was amazing and the people were really lovely too. The last time I was in London was way back in 2008 and I’ve made a promise to myself now that I won’t wait so long to return next time — I’m kind of already planning my next trip there!

Home Again

Home again! London was as amazing as we’d hoped it would be. I’d like to say I’ve returned from my trip feeling refreshed and rejuvenated but really I’m just exhausted…in a good way! We wanted to make the most of our four days away so we packed in lots and basically didn’t stop going. By the time we landed back in Dublin on Saturday evening, we were ready to collapse!

It really was brilliant though. There’s so much that happened in the last week that I can’t wait to share with you all. I took a little break from blogging while I was away but I’ll be making up for that in the coming weeks so please be sure to check back in! :-)

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As lovely as it is to be home again, that doesn’t stop me seriously missing this beautiful bed! We stayed at Hotel Xanadu in Ealing and the room felt so luxurious and comfortable. Little touches — like fancy ice-cream and a fortune cookie on arrival — really added to the whole experience!

London Bound!

One more sleep and then we’ll be off! We’re heading to London in the morning and I couldn’t be more excited! I haven’t been there in years so I’m really looking forward to seeing the city again. I’m taking a break from my blog until I’m back but I’ll continue to post on my Twitter and Instagram (I’m @sineaddaze if you’d like to follow along). See you all next week! :)

Taste of Dublin 2015

Today was spent in the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin city centre for the annual Taste of Dublin festival. Now in its tenth year, it’s a well-established event. I hadn’t been since 2012 so I was really looking forward to going back and checking it out all over again!

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There were two sessions held every day, over four days. We were booked in for the 12-4pm session and we arrived promptly at midday, along with a pretty big crowd of eager foodies!

The setting was as gorgeous as I remember with a large waterfall, fountain and stretches of green space. We were handed guidebooks as soon as we arrived which were really helpful in showing what was available as quite a bit happens across the site throughout the day.

A number of successful chefs were at Taste of Dublin every day to share skills and secrets in different forms. Almost immediately after arriving, we found ourselves at a demo by UK Masterchef champion Tim Anderson who taught us about cooking pork and sweet potato mash sous-vide. It was interesting and what I really liked was that the demo was held in its own little tent and limited to about twenty participants per session. It gave it a more intimate feel where anyone could ask a question, everyone could stand right by the station to see the food being prepared and then we all got a delicious sample afterwards (always a bonus!).

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We then joined in on an interactive cooking demo hosted by the Dublin Cookery School. Chef and Michelin starred restaurant owner Oliver Dunne was in charge of our session. In pairs, we were set up at cooking stations and we followed along as he prepared a dish from scratch. The necessary ingredients were set out for us and they included sea bass, clams and mussels…all of which I’m completely unfamiliar with!

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We gave it a go anyway and it was pretty fun…although a bit stressful too, I have to say! I’m used to cooking at my own pace and being relaxed about everything whereas this was so different and fast-paced! We managed to put something on our little serving plates by the end of it though and that has to count for something! I don’t eat seafood but my sister tried it and said it was actually pretty good!

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After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon browsing all the various stalls and kiosks. As always, a selection of the capital’s best restaurants were on-site with an array of offerings.

Some of the sample-sized dishes available included Irish Organic House-Cured Salmon from Brioche; Dublin Bay Prawns from Chop House; Wicklow Lamb Massaman from Saba; 28 Day Dry-Aged Sirloin Steak from FX Buckley; Crispy Pork Croquettes from The Old Spot…

For all of us with a sweet tooth, there was plenty to keep us happy too with desserts such as Snickers Parfait from Pichet; Beetroot Chocolate Brownie from The Exchequer and Barry’s Tea Cake from Chapter One.

I opted for a steamed bun with Chinese roast duck, Asian salad and hoisin from Soder & Ko. It was honestly one of the most delicious things ever! I love duck and this was cooked so perfectly. I also got petits fours from The Hot Stove which consisted of a strawberry jelly, salt caramel truffle and Bailey’s Coffee macaron. The nice man that I bought this from assured me that it would be the best macaron I’d ever have…I’m a huge fan of macarons and this was really beautiful (but I still prefer Cocoa Atelier, sorry!).

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As well as the restaurants; there were over seventy exhibitors selling a huge variety of snacks, sweets and savouries. You could pick up some samples along the way and purchase cupcakes, pastries, chocolates, wine, whiskies and much more. Looking back through the list, I’m so disappointed to see I actually missed quite a few! I do find that often tends to be the case with these type of events though — especially when there are so many people about and distractions at every turn!

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Overall, we had a really lovely day. I have to say the weather really makes a difference to this event. I know I didn’t enjoy Bloom as much this year largely because of the frequent rain showers. Today, however, was all blue skies and sunshine so it was immediately more appealing.

Just like Bloom last month, Taste of Dublin can be an expensive enough event. I’m going away during the week so I really didn’t want to splurge a lot today. I still enjoyed myself but I think it would’ve been even better if I didn’t have to be so cash-conscious (or, you know, if some things had been more affordable…ahem!).

I said the same thing about Bloom and that is that I couldn’t say for definite that I’d go back to this event next year but I would be interested in attending it again at some point. It is a good day out and definitely a fun experience for all ages. We stayed for most of the four-hour session and by the end of it, I was kind of exhausted! We did so much walking around, I’m fairly sure we burned off most of the food we tried out — or at least enough to justify the extra few little treats I brought home ;-).

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Goodfella’s Dessert Pizzas

Recently, as I was browsing the freezer aisle in Tesco’s, I came across Goodfella’s Dessert Pizzas. I love trying out new things plus I have a crazy sweet tooth so (of course!) I was instantly intrigued. Since they were on offer at half-price and cost just €1.99 a piece, I figured I couldn’t not give them a try!

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There are two flavours to choose from, Apple Crumble and Chocolate Brownie. Both consist of a frozen stone-baked pizza base with sweet toppings.

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Apple Crumble has diced apples, Bramley apple sauce and a crumble topping. A bit of care has to be taken when opening this one as some of the powdery crumble can (and probably will) spill everywhere once the plastic comes off. Of course, it does then firm up in the oven. Taste-wise; it’s a lot like an apple pie with its doughy base and fruity pieces. It’s nice but…I feel it’s missing something — I think it could do with some cinnamon. This is best served warm from the oven. I had some of the leftovers the next day and it was fairly tough and hard to chew, even when reheated.

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When I picked these dessert pizzas up; I guessed I’d prefer Chocolate Brownie and I wasn’t wrong! This one is topped with milk chocolate sauce, chocolate brownie pieces and milk and white chocolate chips. My first thought after unwrapping it was that the brownie pieces are so scarce — it looks like there’s barely half a regular-sized brownie crumbled on top. When it had baked and (only slightly) cooled, I discovered it was actually more than enough. The sauce is so good — it’s sweet without being sickly and delivers a really good chocolate hit. Combined with the milk and white chocolate mini-chunks, this is a chocaholic’s dream! While this is also best served immediately after baking; it was almost as good served cold the next day!

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The recommended baking time for these pizzas is 14-17 minutes so they’re a handy dessert to have on standby in the freezer (you know, for an emergency or something…). Handier still is that there’s no need for plates or forks — just like regular pizza, you can divide this up and everyone can grab a slice of their own.

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These were fun to try and I’m glad I picked them up. I don’t think I’d repurchase the Apple Crumble pizza but I’d definitely try the Chocolate Brownie again…or maybe even attempt to make it myself one day! What do you guys think about dessert pizzas in general — have you tried any, would you try them or does the whole idea just seem wrong to you? Let me know in the comments below :-)

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