Our honeymoon - highlights from an incredible trip to Thailand and Singapore

Where do I even begin with this post? If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that we've just returned from our amazing 3 week honeymoon in Thailand and Singapore. It was honestly an once in a lifetime trip filled with some incredible memories and experiences. It's been so hard to narrow it down but off the top of my head these are just some of the highlights from our trip:

Admiring the view from the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

That first dose of sunshine and heat
Considering it was still snowing when we left London it was a bit of shock when we stepped outside to 35 degrees heat. It was so nice though and now that we're back I'm seriously missing the sunshine and warmth.

Street food in Bangkok
Would it be wrong to say this was one of the thing I was most excited about pre-holiday? Bangkok is known for it's street food and wherever you go there are stalls selling everything from BBQ skewers and steamed buns to soup noodles and sometimes even a full restaurant menu.

CRU champagne rooftop bar  
Located on the 59th floor this was the highest open air bar that we've been to to date. As darkness fell the views were absolutely stunning and sipping on our cocktails it was the perfect way to celebrate our last night in Bangkok.

Visiting the Grand Palace
Probably the most famous historic site in Bangkok. As a former residence of the King Siam and his royal government the complex was huge and each building beautifully intricate in detail and design. A must visit if you're ever in Bangkok.
The incredible swimming pool at Twin Palms
I mean just look at the photo, need I say more?! The pool literally took my breath away as we walked into the hotel complex. It was great for cooling down during the afternoon and as it was open 24 hours we were able to enjoy a few midnight swims too.

Sunset drinks at The Palm
This was one of the restaurant/bars that was part of our Twin Palms Hotel. It's a short shuttle bus ride away but the bar is located right next to the rocks so you're about as close to the water as you can get. As the sun set there's a gentle sea breeze and it felt truly magical to be enjoying a mojito right next to the Andaman Sea.

Swimming in the sea
Surin beach is probably one of the calmer more family friendly beaches in Phuket and we both loved climbing the rocks and going for a swim the water. Even now as I look through our photos I still can't believe how blue and crystal clear the water was!

Dining on the beach at midnight
After drinks at The Palm we were in need of some food and walking around we found several open air restaurants on the beach. It was honestly such an incredible experience and I'll never forget being able to eat the most delicious Thai food then just running a few meters down the beach for a post dinner dip.

Swimming in the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands
Staying at Marina Bay Sands has been on my bucket list ever since that BBC amazing hotels program and I'm glad to say that it didn't disappoint. As soon as we were checked in we made our way up to the infinity pool - it felt surreal to be there in person looking out to the city and I could have stayed there taking in the view forever.

Exploring Sentosa Island
Because Phuket was so incredible I had a touch of the holiday blues in Singapore so it was lovely to be back in a beach environment again, even if it was all artificial and man made. Our day exploring the island was one of my favourites and seeing in the sunset from a beach bar was just the most romantic and perfect end to our day.

Have you ever been to Thailand or Singapore? What have been some of your recent highlights?

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A romantic date night at The Balcon, St James's
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A romantic date night at The Balcon, St James's

I'm a big believer in making the most of every day and sometimes after a particularly long day at work there's nothing better than a romantic dinner or drinks with friends to look forward to. Which is how one cold Monday evening we found ourselves sharing a bottle of wine and enjoying a delicious 3 course meal at The Balcon:

Located within The Sofitel Hotel near Trafalgar Square, The Balcon specialises in French and British cuisine and upon walking in we both fell in love with the luxe elegant decor. There's a stunning spiral staircase leading up to a small balcony and the whole restaurant had a cosy romantic feel with dark wooden furniture, plush velvet chairs and striking gold accents.

As we perused the menu a glass of Viognier white wine was soon poured and a selection of breads brought to the table. Usually I'm more of a cocktail or prosecco drinker but despite this I really enjoyed the crisp refreshing taste. In fact it went with our meal perfectly and I made sure to make a note of the bottle so we could enjoy it again the next time we visit.

The menu at The Balcon is small but refined and with a selection of meats and vegetarian dishes on offer there's something for everyone. For starter I wanted something light so choose the steak tartare where as R went for a hearty lamb wellington with pea puree and girolle sauce.

Both came beautifully presented but I personally thought the steak tartare was the star of the show. You could tell there was a lot of knife skill as the beef pieces were perfectly even and the balance of flavours just right with the artichoke crisps adding a lovely crunch to the dish. I believe the tartare can also be ordered as a main and they'll even mix it up at the table so you can customise the dish exactly to your tastes.

Between starters and mains we were able to enjoy some more of the delicious white wine and catch up on our day together. By this time the sun had set and it was so lovely to look out into Central London from the warmth and comfort of our little corner.

Mains were soon brought over and with our impending honeymoon in mind I'd chosen the sea bream as a slightly healthier option. I was particularly impressed with the crispiness and cooking of the fish and enjoyed the samphire and salsify as an accompaniment, although I would have preferred slightly less of the beurre blanc.

R on the hand had gone for a confit duck leg. We were both impressed with the depth of flavour that was packed into the lentils and thought the sausage and bacon pieces were a nice addition.

If I had to pick just one course which really stood out then without a doubt it would have to be the desserts at The Balcon. The presentation was so pretty and both dishes tasted just as good too. If you ever visit then make sure you try the vanilla and passion fruit mousse with walnut cake and caramel. Fruity, soft and refreshing it was the perfect end to a delicious meal. The chocolate fondant was such a classic too, although with an interesting twist of the pear ice cream.

Overall we both really enjoyed our meal at The Balcon. There's a lovely relaxed but romantic atmosphere, staff couldn't have been more helpful and the delicious hearty food perfect for warming up after a long day. 
Have you ever been to The Balcon? What are your favourite date night restaurants?

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*We were guests of The Balcon

Cambridge city guide - 10 fun things to see and do in a weekend

Cambridge may be best known for it's university and colleges but there's so much more to the city and as we discovered it's a great location for a UK staycation too. If you're also thinking of visiting then here are my top 10 fun things to see and do in Cambridge: 

1. Climb up the tower at Great St Mary's Church
For the best views of the city I would start with a visit to St Mary's Church. Located in the center of Cambridge it offers a great panoramic view of the city. It's a working church so you can have a quick look around before climbing up the narrow staircase for an overview of the local colleges, markets and architecture. Tickets are £4 for entry to the tower with a small discount for concessions.

2. Visit a university college
Once you've climbed down from the tower have a wander around the city center then make your way to one of the local colleges. King's College is one of the most famous and the Chapel is just stunning but I'd also recommend making a short walk to Selwyn College for it's beautiful gardens, especially in the Spring or Summer. Whatever college you choose, soak in the atmosphere and if you're anything like me it'll no doubt take you back to your own university days.

3. Browse Market Square
For a quick snack our favourite was Market Square. A decent sized market with stalls selling everything from dim sum and burgers to artisan breads and cheeses. I'd recommend having a walk around, sample some of the delights on offer and if you can stock up on some local produce to take home too - the cheese stalls in particular have so much choice on offer.
4. Marvel at the Mathematical Bridge
Officially called the Wooden Bridge, this is the most famous bridge in Cambridge. Despite the arch shape it's actually built entirely out of straight timbers hence the nickname. Popular myth is that there are no nuts and bolts holding it together and although not true it's still worth a visit, especially as the surrounding area is so picturesque too. 

5.  Enjoy afternoon tea at Fitzbillies
Another Cambridge institution - Fitzbillies has been serving sweet treats to locals and visitors since 1921. There are now 2 branches serving afternoon tea and their famous Chelsea buns. In particular I loved the traditional feel of their Trumptington Street branch and they have some of the prettiest window displays around.

6. Go punting
If the weather allows then make sure you book in for a punt along the River Cam. If you're visiting in Winter like we did then make sure you have a hot tea/coffee or enjoy a glass of Pimms in the summer as you're taken on a scenic tour of the city. It's a great way to explore and discover more about Cambridge, taking in the stunning architecture, bridges and hidden views of the some of the most famous colleges.

7. See the Corpus Clock
Another quick site to go and see. Officially unveiled by Stephen Hawkings the clock is made up of an striking 24 carat gold plated disc with no hands or numerals. Instead it displays the time by opening individual slits within the three rings which are lit up with blue LEDs to tell the hour, minutes and seconds.

8. Warm up in a pub with a hearty meal and pint
When you're visiting a city as steeped in history as Cambridge you can't not enjoy a traditional English Pub. There are so many to choose from but we stopped off at The Granta which had a nice view and an outdoor balcony for the Summer. It seemed popular with the locals too as there were a good mix of university students and families. My top tip would be to avoid the burger and instead go for a hearty bangers and mash, all washed down with a pint or G&T.

9. Visit one of the many Cambridge museums
For a dose of culture and education why not visit one of the many museums that Cambridge has to offer. We stumbled upon Fitzwilliam Museum which is the most famous and offers a large collection of art and antiques. There's also the Whipple Museum which houses scientific model and instruments as well as The Centre for Computing History to name but a few.

10. Explore Cambridge University Botanic Garden
Sadly we ran out of time to do this but judging by the photos the Cambridge University Botanic Garden is well worth a visit. Think stunning floral displays, pretty rock gardens and exotic greenhouses all set with 40 acres of land - the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city

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Valentine's day gift guide (for her and for him)

Anyone else notoriously last minute when it comes to picking up presents? Whether it's for a partner, friend or even yourself Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to treat that someone special in your life. And if you've yet to find the perfect gift then I've got a some gorgeous beauty and food treats for tomorrow:

Valentine's Day Gifts For Her
Chocolates may be one of the more traditional gifts but you really can't go wrong with a box of Charbonnel et Walker truffles. A really delicious combination of smooth chocolate truffle, crunchy biscuit pieces and salty caramel sauce. One of the best chocolate truffles I've ever tried and the perfect after dinner treat, especially with a bottle of my favourite prosecco or champagne.

Monica Vinader siren small stacking ring
Monica Vinader make some of the prettiest jewellery pieces and for Valentine's day I think her Siren small stacking ring would be perfect. It's so dainty and delicate and I love the combination of the rose quartz and rose gold. I like to wear mine by itself as an everyday piece but it would look lovely stacked up with a few of the other colours too.

Latest in Beauty date night box
As a little treat for yourself or for a beauty obsessed friend I'd recommend the Latest in Beauty date night box. It's packed with products including a relaxing Sanctuary salt scrub, luxurious Dr Botanicals rose facial oil and a pretty Kiko blush stick. Everything you need to pamper and get ready for a night out and at a bargain at a fraction of the price too.

For a more home inspired gift what about this really gorgeous Vera Wang photo frame and LSE mini vase from Amara? The photo frame comes in the most beautiful presentation box and the brushed silver design is so classic yet stylish. You could even print off a photo of the two of you together for a more personalised gift. 

As an alternative to just flowers I'd also recommend getting a beautiful vase too. That way she'd have something to keep for after. I love this mini table vase from LSA as the shape is just so perfect. And thanks to the small size it can be used for other items like make up brushes and pens too.

Valentine's Day Gifts For Him 

Over the years I've brought the Mr pretty much every brand of whisky but for something a bit different why not try Metaxa 12 stars. Originating from Greece it's a spirit which combines aromatic Muscat wines with fragrant May roses and Mediterranean herbs for a toasted fruity spiced flavour. Serve on a rocks or mixed with apple juice for a refreshing drink. It comes in a lovely presentation box and is a great alternative to the more traditional whisky or brandy. 

I remember when we were planning our wedding and so many people told us to pick a special wedding day fragrance so that you'd always have a scent to remember the day by. If your husband did something similar then why not pick up a bottle of his perfume or matching shower gel/body lotion for a really memorable gift. Jo Malone also do matching candles and reed diffusers too so the options are endless.

Finally for the gentleman who likes to look his best I'd recommend the Braun series 7 smart shaver. Not only does the sleek silver design look great, it also comes with 5 shaving modes and can be used both wet and dry for the ultimate convenience. Other features include autosense technology and adaptive shaving foils for a close shave and an advanced clean and charge station for easy cleaning in between uses.

Are you also a last minute shopper? What will you be buying for Valentine's day?

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Life lately - My January highlights

It feels like only yesterday that I was writing up my 2017 highlights and now here we are at the end of another month. Unlike previous years January seems to have been surprisingly busy with birthdays, anniversaries and blogging events as well as a lot of time researching and planning for our honeymoon in Singapore and Thailand:

January de-clutter and shopping
January started with a much needed de-clutter and I've dug out my trusty Marie Kondo book for some inspiration. Her method may be a little extreme but it's certainly very motivating and I'm glad to have cleared out part of my wardrobe. Over the last few years I've gotten into a real style rut so it was good to throw out the old and to make some space for some exciting new purchases. Speaking off which I took advantage of the sales and treated myself to a gorgeous new navy Kate Spade Wallet and sparkly peach H&M jumper.

Treatment and blow dry at Rush hair salon
As a little treat I was booked in for a blow dry at Rush Westborne Grove just after New Year's. A relatively new salon I loved the sleek modern decor and the fact that the salon uses Kerastase products. There's magazines to browse whilst you wait and refreshments are complimentary too, with the Lindor chocolate going down particularly well. We started with a personalised Fusidose treatment which was designed to soften and add shine to my hair. As I was going out later that evening my stylist Jo then used a hair straighter to create a tighter look so that they could drop yet still maintain a curl.

Fitness and personal training
After a month of overindulgence and 2 weeks off at Christmas it wasn't the easiest getting back to the gym but as always having a PT really helped. If nothing else it forces me to go to the gym and once I'm there I'm usually happy to work out. We're continuing to work on my strength with a mixture of cardio and weights although with our honeymoon coming up I'd like to focus more on fat loss this month. I also did a park run in January and managed to achieve my fastest 5-10k speed to date.

Batch cooking with John Lewis
Towards the end of the month I was invited to a batch cooking class in association with John Lewis. Held at the Waitrose Cooking School in King's Cross, we made a simple but tasty tomato sauce, learnt how to use it to make a pizza and Shakshuka before putting our cooking skills to good use by making fresh pasta and Puttanesca sauce. I've never made pasta before but it was surprisingly quick and simple and tasted absolutely delicious too. For more batch cooking tips and all the recipes check out their blog post here.

Visit Madeira and meeting new bloggers
Since returning to blogging last year I've made an effort to share more travel content and last week I attended my first Visit Madeira event. The Barbican Conservatory made for a beautiful backdrop and we got to sample some delicious Portugese food as well as some Poncha cocktails which were strong but very yummy. We also learnt all about Madeira wine and how it was traditionally fortified on long sea journeys when the excessive heat would transform the flavour of the wine. Safe to say it's a new favourite and I've picked up a bottle from the supermarket already! It was lovely to meet some of the other travel bloggers at the event too.

6 months anniversary and honeymoon plans
And finally my favourite highlights this month - celebrating our 6 months anniversary. It's crazy to think that we've been married half a year already. I still remember the stress of planning a wedding and it really doesn't seem like all that long ago! We celebrated with a really lovely meal at London Steakhouse Co. as well as lots of prosecco and truffles at home. On a related note we've also finally decided on some dates for our honeymoon and I can't wait to explore Thailand and Singapore later this year.

For more photos and daily highlights you can also follow me on Instagram here. 
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