I Did Disney… and This Time it Got Boujee.

I went back. Told you I would. This is why there has been silence.

I WAS AT DISNEY Y’ALL!

It was a very different adventure to my last time. I had my bearings as it was a second trip, but with a very different bunch: my school friends.

My girls. My Squad. My Gang. My Besties. Whatever you want to call them. We decided to have a blow out holiday as life got stressful for all of us but we had each others back. Not only that, it was roughly our 10 year friendiversary. I mean… I’m grasping at straws on that one but I feel like as of year 10 at school we could all say we were solid friends… ten years later, we’re all still here and all getting on a bit.

The trip itself came from a place of disappointment. My own Disney trip that year had spectacularly fallen through for the third time (it’s a saga that could rival Twilight… less vampires though) and my other friend was despairing as her boyfriend was enrolling in a course with no down time, so no holibobs for her this year.

On our weekly joint gym trip we sat and bemoaned our situations whilst half heartedly peddling on the bikes until it hit us. Why don’t we go away together… TO DISNEY?! The puzzle pieces started to fit together. After a look at whats on, when we’re free and costs we thought, why not invite a couple of the others? Every room we looked at had double beds and none of us mind sharing, plus costs would go down, there would be four of us so no-one would be alone on rides and the whole gang would be together. The puzzle started to actually look like something, namely Princess Aurora’s pink Paris castle.

After a day of planning, a long, expensive phone call, a hit to all of our bank accounts and a lot of pizza, it was booked and the puzzle was completed. WE WERE GOING TO DISNEY.

Now, as for the name of the post, we were split between doing Disney on the cheap or DOING DISNEY BIG TIME. Neither are not valid options and it was a lot of weighing up pros and cons based on savings, convenience and just how much of a “blow out holiday” we wanted. We decided to go quids in, as tbh, we’re all getting to the point where people are getting mortgages, having babies and getting married, so we figured let’s do it before one of us settles and can’t put the money towards it anymore. Live while we’re young and all that crap.

So DOING DISNEY, yes with the caps lock on, is the option we went for. We all had the money saved up, the costs had dropped because there was four of us, we had a budget airline on our doorstep flying to Charles De Gaulle and managed to bag a deal of 25% off and free Half Board. GET IN MY SON.

Now here’s where we got boujee and played princess a little bit:

  • We upgraded our half board to ‘plus’ which gave us a larger range of restaurants to choose from and meant that food wasn’t going to be a problem when we got there.
  • We chose to stay at the Newport Bay hotel, one of Disney’s 4* hotels, five minutes from the park. One of my friends said that the Compass Club upgrade was worth it, so we upgraded too. What the hell. When in Rome… or Disney.
  • We splurged on the Marvel Package (as it was the end of the superhero season so figured let’s do it before it possibly disappears forever).
  • We booked Buffalo Bills one night, which I feel like is a must now.

 

Now, originally, when it was the two of us, we actually looked at the Disneyland Hotel, as it was a dream of my friends, however, with the four of us, we paid almost the same price for the Newport Bay, upgrade and marvel package as one standard room at the DH! So worth changing our plans.

When life gives you lemons… lose a star and gain a Spiderman!

Honestly, it was a whole new world. I have so much to say, good and not so good, that this risks turning into a thesis and nobody needs that. I will say a dream is a wish your heart makes. That little wooden holiday dream can turn into a real holiday with enough faith trust and pixie dust (and savings, annual leave and wonderful friends.)

So, I’ll give you the 411 on all those upgrades, luxury’s, meet & greets, tips and tricks, learnt this time around in another post… or two! Keep your eyes peeled and your Mickey ears on. It’s all coming up!

And the Disney bounding… OF COURSE THERE WAS DISNEY BOUNDING!

 

That’s all folks…

WAIT THAT’S NOT DISNEY!

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Gif credits – Giphy.com : Storm Troopers /Anna/ Cinderella/Spiderman
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They Call Me Awkward Annie.

“What’s your name kid?”

“They call me Annie, awkward Annie. The weirdest kid in the west.”

Well, that’s how the conversation would go if my life were a cowboy film. (And slightly but not completely off topic comment, I do actually love the story of Annie Oakley, and we’re both Leos’, so y’know, lion prowess connecting us through time or something or other, I don’t know. Just FYI.)

Alas, the awkwardness struck again and I ended up being called by the wrong name. I really need to stop doing that. I just need to figure out a way of saying ‘that’s not my name’ without sounding rude. I just can’t! I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just stammer a bit, stutter a bit and reside myself to the fact that my name has been changed irrevocably for the next however long. I dunno. Honestly, my life is like living in a Bridget Jones book sometimes.

However, steps have been taken in the race against awkwardness. I recently found myself in a room full of extended family I had either never met or hadn’t seen in 20 years but I didn’t actually get awkward. RESULT. I just strolled up to someone and went, “hi, you don’t remember me but we’re cousins and when I was three you put me in an Ali Baba style washing basket, put the lid on and walked away. Nice to re-meet you.”

SCORE! 10 anti-awkward points to Hufflepuff.

Also, I booked a haircut without an ounce of awkwardness. I mean c’mon! This is legit progress! Haircuts are one of my favourite and least favourite things in the world. I hate the small talk, the trying-but-not-quite-finding the words to describe exactly what you want, the side stepping and struggling to find the right date for your next appointment and then making the decision as to what you want THAT far in advance, but I love the results once it’s done. I also continually hair flip. Just flip, flip, flip all day long.

Last year, I won a free hair cut in a charity raffle at this fancy salon. So off I went, shaking in my Dr. Martins. I physically couldn’t phone them, it made me too nervous, especially since I didn’t know the joint existed before this. So I popped in (I say popped. I mean planned a day, googled the location, drove past it once, did a loop, parked outside, sat there looking at it, stood outside it picking up the courage to go in and then awkwardly went in with my voucher and fumbled my way through an awful explanation of my situation.)

But, look at me now, just wandering in; “oh hi guys, can I make an appointment please?” Chill as a… well a chilled thing that is chill and wears sunglasses because they’re also making an outward statement about the fact they are too cool for skool (you can’t write school in the statement. You just can’t. It’s an unspoken 00s rule.)

So, I guess there’s hope for this awkward Annie yet. Let’s go on with the show.

ckcsignoff

 

 

 

 

 

GIF CREDITS: TOWLEROAD.COM / GIFER.COMADOREDELARIO.TUMBLR.COM

Drowning in Chocolate🍫| Afternoon Tea at the Hilton!

Something that I find crazy is that when I meet up with my best uni pal, it is as if we were never apart. We message back and forth, send each other birthday and Christmas cards, but suddenly it’s been a year and we’ve not seen each other. Where does the time go? So we always try and make a day of it when we do finally get to meet up. This time it was my turn to plan something and Groupon something I did. Hey, London is pricey, gotta save those pennies where you can! When my friend asked where we were off to, I just said, “the expensive part of the monopoly board.” (Not because I was being mysterious or boujee, but because my internal compass is shot and I had no idea which direction we were going in.)

This time it was the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, Mayfair; Podium Bar & Restaurant’s “Chocoholic’s Afternoon Tea.”

The standard afternoon tea is £39.00 per person,with a champagne option available, but with the 2for1 deal we paid just over £20 each (incl. tip.). The tea menu was extensive but not overwhelming, and there was also coffee and fresh juices on offer, both included as an alternative. As a gal who hates the leafy drink I was mightily happy with this offer👌. I’m not sure if you get refills or not since we weren’t asked, but then again we didn’t ask either. It’s a two way street, Linda!

The food was GORGEOUS. Super rich, but delish. They mean it when they say “chocoholic” afternoon tea. You start with a tray of open sandwiches: prawn cocktail & lettuce, coronation chicken with curry and pineapple, smoked salmon & horseradish, cucumber & chive and ham with tomato chutney, mustard & cress. They were actually really delicious and a nice take on the traditional finger sandwiches: classic tastes, half the bread. We also got offered a refill at no extra cost but declined because my friend was so damn excited about the chocolate she was bouncing like a baby in a baby bouncer.

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So here comes the sweet treats: scones, pastries and miniature fancies (as the menu describes them. I would just say little creamy, chocolatey things.) Now, here lies the rub. If you’re not good at sharing, especially food, maybe don’t come to this tea. The only sweet stuff you get two of is the plain scones, the rest is one between two. It’s not too bad because boy is that stuff rich, but if you’re not comfortable with sharing or splitting 50/50… maybe look at other options.

Firstly, scones. A plain one each and then I offered to have the raisin one whilst Miss J took care of the chocolate chip one. These are accompanied by strawberry jam, clotted cream and a salted caramel spread. Nice twist, you got me gal. Then we moved up a tier into the majesty of the fancy bits. The first tiers of chocolate treats consisted of a coconut sphere with Brazilian chocolate, Pina Colada cheesecake, mandarin and milk chocolate log and a caramelised banana and milk chocolate macaroon.

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These were a bit hit and miss with us. The pina colada cheesecake and the coconut sphere I could have eaten over and over again, the other two… not so much. I mean, Miss J picked all the mandarin out of her log, and I really wasn’t a fan of the mushy banana texture in the centre of the macaroon, but each to their own.

The top tier was the supreme tier, the God tier. A deconstructed black forest gateau and a passion fruit and strawberry tartlet. I all but inhaled it. They were so, so delish. I just, I just can’t. They were so darn good. I dream about them. I do. Honestly. My pal was full… so guess who got to eat all of them. This guy! I’m usually very good at sharing, but in this moment I was so glad I didn’t have to.

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So all in all, the food was so yummy but slightly hit and miss in places, however, that was personal preference. The staff and location were wonderful too. I have to say that, with the Groupon voucher, it was worth it (watch out for the added gratuity not covered by the voucher though) but I’m not sure I would have done it full price on my budget!

Until next time!

ckcsignoff

 

 

 

Gif credit: giphy.com/Paris Hilton

Peter Pan Disney Bounding!💚

Oh I did it, I dabbled in the dark arts of Disney Bounding… ok it’s not dark arts at all, it’s actually super fun!

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I’m heading back to DLP this year and my troupe of lost boys suddenly expressed a desire to have a go at Disney Bounding. What is Disney Bounding I hear you cry? Well, I’m not actually sure.

Oh helpful Kate, well done.

In my opinion, Disney bounding is subtly dressing as a character without wearing a costume. You compile a look inspired by your favourite characters, which can give the illusion of the character, without infringing upon the ‘NO COSTUMES FOR ADULTS’ rule. I guess that’s about right?

 On my trip to Disneyland Paris last year, I decided to have a go at Disney Bounding. It looked fun and gave me a little bit of a challenge.  I wasn’t brilliant at it, but I cobbled together what I had to give ode to one of my favourite characters: Peter Pan. The boy who never grew up.

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The basic outfit was… well… basic. A plain, forest green, v neck tee and some ripped black jeans. Now, I get it, the kid wears tights/leggings but a) tights are revealing at the best of times and are uncomfortable little buggers and b) I fail to believe that a kid who flies, lives in a forest and sword fights for fun has never ripped, snagged or put a hole in his flaming leggings. So for comfort, coverage and realness… ripped jeans ftw. I also tried it with some green jeans too, but I kinda looked like a big booger, so I stepped away from the green trousers.

I paired these with a pair of brown, ankle boots, not suede or with upturned toes, but with a sweet, brogue-esque, later cut design and thick soles for all that walking (and rain.) Now for his other clothing necessity; his green cap with a red feather in it. Ngl, I wasn’t feeling a cap. So instead of wearing a hat on my head, I found a gorgeous, little bow from OnceUponABowtiqueUK. I pulled my hair into a high pony, ready for adventuring, and tucked this little clip on the front to hide the band.

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I still felt like I was missing something. Something tinkling in my ear and spreading pixie dust about the place. TINKERBELLE, OF COURSE! I picked up an enamel Tink pin in the park, as they have many pins, widely available (especially of our favourite Pixie) and popped her on my shirt so she could hover over my shoulder. Even when she is sent away, Tink is always looking out for Peter (may I remind you of the poisoned medicine incident 💀.) So if you’re dressing as Peter Pan, you’ve got to include his trusty sidekick!

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Now for the nods to ya boy which aren’t exactly in character but added elements of the story to give it that little extra. Firstly, I found a pair of cameo styled earrings, one of Peter’s profile and one of Wendy. I wore them facing inwards, as if they were looking towards each other. Creepy but cute. The other was another enamel pin that simply says: “Think Happy Thoughts.” A statement we should consider all year around, but in this case you have to “…think happy thoughts, and they lift you up into the air!” Both of these pieces are from HouseOfWonderland. They are both gorgeous, detailed and well made and I still wear them on the regs.

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The other little nod was my necklace. I took a few Pan themed necklaces with me, however the chosen one for this look was one that would possibly be found upon Peter Pan’s person. I wore my little thimble and acorn around my neck, just like Wendy and Peter wear theirs. Keep your kisses close, they could save your life!

I did get around to wearing all of them though! Both the gold resin flight necklace and the acorn and thimble one were gifted to me, but the last I bought on Etsy. It’s sad but I believe that the shop has since closed down, which sucks pixie dust!

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So, not as far as some go but a step further than everyone else I went with! It’s all about getting creative and feeling that Disney magic! You do you and have fun with it! I wanted to have a go, did it and didn’t feel silly or out of place, in fact the characters will usually clock if you’ve dressed like them or have something relating to them on you. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Peter the day I was wearing my Pan garb, so I met him in one of my Alice themed outfits… he still managed to pick up on the anchor on my shirt and accuse me of piracy!

If you want to check out my last escapade to Disney, find out more about my character interactions (including the pirate controversy) or the time I got spooned by a clown at DLP them I shall leave the links below (bonus, I went overboard with the photos again) :

>>Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary 💙<<

>> Meeting Peter Pan, Mickey Mouse, Jack Sparrow and the Mad Hatter at Disneyland Paris ✨<<

>>Being spoonfed by a clown at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show! 🙀<<

 

“Just think of the happiest things, it’s the same as having wings!”

Until next time, off to Neverland!

ckcsignoff

 

P.S. None of this sponsored, I just love what I found!

 

In a World Full of a Regina’s, Be a Janis.

“I wish I could bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles and we’d all eat it and be happy.” – Crying girl that doesn’t even go here out of Mean Girls 💋

In a world full of Reginas’, be a Janis.

I, for one, am a Janis. Pegged to be the weird one and the target for all the jokes bullies, or in actual fact just literal, IRL mean girls, that can make school kinda unbearable. But what even is weird? Some people say weird like it is a bad thing. If being quick witted and confident enough to slam dunk a come back like “your mom’s chest hair”, being strong enough to stand alone or march as part of a crowd to the beat of my own drum, to withstand hurt time and time again and still wake up and face each day as myself without bowing to peer pressure or societal/community norms, then I think I’d rather be a weirdo, be like Janis.anigif_enhanced-buzz-7961-1383248660-42Being “weird” or specifically a “weirdo” or even an “outsider” or “non-conformist” doesn’t mean you can’t wear pink on a Wednesday. It does mean, however, you can wear sweats or joggers when ever you like! Wear the jeans, g’wannnn! You can most definitely wear your hair in a ponytail whenever you want to. White gold hoops are you thing, their thing, everyone’s thing if they want it to be. Wear the hoops. Dammit, you can even make fetch happen. Yes, you can!

Don’t worry about comparing yourself to other people, because their standards, their bars and their goals are set in a different place to yours. They have different ideas and ideals. It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to walk away. It’s ok to step back. It’s ok to want to take things slow. It’s ok to want a change. It’s ok to want to stay exactly where you are. You do not need to be someone else, or live someone else’s life, when you could be you and live your life the way you want to, not how someone else wants it to go or be done.

It’s easier said than done, I know that, but remember two things:

1) “The world doesn’t end, it just feels like it does. – Janis, ‘I’d Rather Be Me’, Mean Girls the musical.

2) There’s only one of you… and that’s so fetch!

Yes. Yes this was almost a love note to Mean Girls. I was a 00s teen and, other than it being one of the most quoteable films ever made, it was basically my biopic. I mean I could totally relate… and I was most certainly a Janis.

Also, very excited that this is now a musical.

V. V. excited!

ckcsignoff

 

 

GIF Credit: Buzzfeed/sammywinchester|tumblr

Prancing Around Like I’m Mary Lennox🌻 | Somerleyton Hall & Gardens.

I recently went on a little escapade and found myself getting lost in the sprawling 5000 acre estate of Someleyton Hall in Lowestoft, UK. Honestly, there were moments when I was on my own, surrounded by trees twisted into odd shapes, with three different exits that all look the same and the odd statue peeking out from behind a bush that you swear wasn’t there before, it was like being in a beautiful episode of ‘Tales of the Unexpected.’

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Literally… the place was used in ‘Tales of the Unexpected’… and as a stand in for Sandringham (y’know, QEII’s house.) This place is beyond beautiful. Not to mention they have one of those great big hedge mazes like in Harry Potter. I didn’t go in it just because I was too hot to adventure and I had a super savage summer cold (like, I should have done a She’s the Man and shoved tampons up my nose like Viola to stop the snot river that was a flowin’.) Also, I was scared I would get lost and then Voldemort would just be in there all nose-less and snake like, poking people in the forehead, screaming ‘KILL THE SPARE!’ No thanks, Barbara.

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But anyway, anyway, all references aside, Somerleyton is absolutely gorgeous and there is a sweet little tea room and gift shop too. There are tours over the course of the day which run at around 45 minutes each. This is the only way to see inside the hall itself, as Lord and Lady Somerleyton and their family still reside there. Check the website for availability, because opening days and times vary season to season. One adult ticket for entrance into both the hall & gardens comes in at around £11.45, with deals for groups, concessions and RHS members. You can get a ticket for just the gardens too at a reduced price, which is just as worth it if you love the great outdoors and a bit of artistic landscaping. Honestly, it was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon, mooching around in the sunshine without a cloud in the sky. If they ever remake The Secret Garden… this would be the place to shoot those exteriors! It’s a nature photographers dream!

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Pretending to be Shania Twain with Ice Cream.

I’m pretty much a quarter of the way to death. At my age, by all kinds of unspoken societal law, in my position I should be a fully fledged adult doing adult things… and I am… sometimes.

The thing is, there are times when life gets too much. The universe is catapulting hideous demogorgon-esque scenarios your way, everyone is breathing down your neck, opinions and judgements are pushing you from pillar to post like a mental bully circle and everywhere you turn looks real bleak. In moments like those you just have to relent. Being a strong, adult figure doesn’t mean being crippled with anxiety and carrying the world on your shoulders 24/7. You are human after all. Here’s a tested, tried and true method of mine that I put into practice again just recently and oh my life! It was like hitting the reset button on your tamagotchi and bringing it back from the dead. You ready? Pretend you’re 14 again and do the things you used to do, let loose a little and allow yourself to have no responsibilities for an hour or so. Maybe just one night.

One of my best gals came over, we both got into our PJs and ordered enough pizza to feed a family of four. Whilst waiting we decided to go full tween movie, pyjama party realness and put on my 90s playlist. There we are, hair brush microphones in hands, high kicking, full on emoting, singing along to Shania Twain together before collapsing onto the floor in a heap of giggles. After laying on the carpet and stuffing ourself with pizza straight out of the box and bacon and cheese wedges, (yes, you heard me… BACON AND CHEESE WEDGES,) we settled ourselves with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and two spoons and binge watched an entire series of Drag Race (because I banged on about it so much that my friend finally caved, watched it and fell in love with it too.)

We had a heart to heart and talked about more adult things, which is what friends do, and when things got a little heavy on the heart, we decided to go heavy on the face too. I pulled out my entire make up collection and proceeded to give my pal a make over. It wasn’t the most attractive look but we weren’t going for attractive, we were going for laugh-until-we-cry fabulousness. It worked. I cried. It was hilarious. She looked fabulous.

It felt so good to laugh until our stomaches’ ached and our faces hurt. From the outside looking in our behaviour was completely enrobed by a brazen immaturity. Yes, yes it was. Best thing? We didn’t even care, and that’s the clincher to having the most wonderful time. Just. Don’t. Care. Nothing is going to be as fun as frivolity, as just letting go, being crazy. When the fear of judgement is removed we find our safety net. When we feel like no one will care to condemn us, we feel free to take that leap of faith, to free fall a little, to get things off of our chest and be our true selves. If it’s not hurting anyone, why is it so wrong?

That’s all we want isn’t it? To feel free, safe and supported? I know that when I let go of the idea of others judgement, opinions and failing in their eyes, things seem a little brighter and my anxieties drop away at least just a smidge. That’s when true happiness appears and strength will soon follow it.

High Tea with… Cats?! 🐱| Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

“In my world you wouldn’t say “meow,” you’d say “yes Miss Alice.” – Alice, Alice in Wonderland.

Source >> https://giphy.com/gifs/alice-in-wonderland-disney-tToDBg9i7Ol3i/embed

You know what’s not a good idea? Acknowledging the almost 30c temperature and still refusing to wear anything other than all black garb, docs and my hair in a down do. I was sweating like a Goth at a Hot Topic closing down sale but deal with it Linda. I spent last Friday wandering the streets of Shoreditch with my best gal, looking for our purrrrfect lunch spot. After 40 minutes of searching, (hello, my name is directionally dysfunctional) we finally found the inconspicuous little cafe where our reservation was held: Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, better known as the ‘Cat Cafe’.

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The cafe is tucked away on Bethnal Green road, and if you’re not watching you could easily miss it (as we did!) It is what I like to describe as a T.A.R.D.I.S building, much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The theme you ask: Alice in Wonderland. Why? Because, for those not down with Wonderland, Dinah is the name of Alice’s pet cat. Honestly, even the lighting fixture was a giant top hat like the Mad Hatter’s with a chandelier pouring from the centre. It was so, so utterly fab.

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You first enter a small cafe that looks like a galley kitchen. Once your reservation rolls around you are asked to come through into a cross over room, where you are reminded of the cafe rules and asked to wash your hands, before being escorted through into the main cafe and to your seats. Upstairs is far more modern and chic, all white with light wood and chrome fixings, downstairs is a mystical wonderland. The staircase is decorated like a rabbit hole and it leads to a room covered with red roses, playing card and fairy lights, with all the chairs centred around a giant fairy tree (which of course is actually a playground for cats with lots of beds, tunnels and bridges.)

Lady Dinah’s is, first and foremost, home to 14 cats (currently). Whilst you sip your tea and eat your sandwiches the cats are free roaming (this is basically their house so y’know, they would be.) They can and will climb around you, above you, next to you and maybe even cuddle up to the chosen few. There are beds and food bowls scattered around the cafe and a selection of brushes and cat toys so you can interact with them too. There are strict rules, as I mentioned earlier, which are made very clear and you must agree to abide by, such as; don’t feed them, don’t pick them up, don’t disturb them if they are eating or sleeping, if they look irritated then leave them alone… basically the rules I would like to apply to other humans when approaching me.

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Now, don’t get your health and safety knickers in a twist. There is no food or drink stored or prepared in the same area as the cats as far as I could see. Everything was sectioned off by either one or two heavy fire doors and the staff are constantly sweeping, cleaning and disinfecting the tables. Most cats didn’t climb on the tables, except for one: Dorian. He was following what looked like his favourite waiter, clambering over the tables and chairs to stay by his side. Dorian is only a baby and seemed to be relatively friendly and exceptionally cheeky, already used to humans being around all the time. He also fell asleep on a chair that a customer later came to sit it. The staff just got the customer a new chair. Honestly, the cats rule the roost.

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Speaking of the staff, they are super friendly and totally fab, but with not only looking after two rooms full of guests, the extra cleaning and 14 cats to contend with, sometimes they are a little pre occupied, but they are more than happy to help if you ask for any extra drinks or have any questions (even if they are just about the cats.) There is a time limit on each reservation, at around 1hr 30 per session, and it is imperative you book in advance because this place fills up quick! You can also add things, like birthday gift bags, to be waiting on your table when you arrive, how cute is that?!

At £25pp for a full afternoon tea service including unlimited hot and cold drinks, with alcoholic and unlimited food upgrades available, as well as options for the majority of dietary requirements, it is not to be sniffed at. 5 stars, three thumbs up, tens across the board, I will be back.

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GIF Credit: Giphy.com/rapunzellls.tumblr.com

Vegan Vanilla & Oreo Cupcakes!

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I often dabble in a bit of acting, and last week in the U.K it was the Easter half term, meaning all the children were off school for two weeks and the time had come to open a production of George’s Marvellous Medicine to sell out audiences.

Now, as is tradition, baked goods were to be supplied for opening night… however this time there was a twist, one of the guys I was working with is vegan. I had never actually baked vegan cupcakes before. I made a vegan brownie once, my first foray into free-from cooking, but I kinda hated it. So, I looked up some recipes and found one that consisted mostly of things I had in the cupboard already, I just needed a couple of vegan alternatives, such as almond milk and a plant based butter, then I was ready to rock.

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The recipe I followed was this one >> Vegan cupcakes << by cornfairy, which I found on the all recipes website. As I am a novice vegan cook, I followed the recipe to the letter at first, not knowing what the colour or consistency should be like. I baked two cupcakes to start, to see how it turned out, but they were completely raw in the middle weren’t quite right, so I made a couple of adjustments. I also should note that these were almost more like vanilla and coconut cupcakes, due to the coconut oil used in them, however, that might just be the oil I have that gave it that coconutty flavour. It was delish anyway.

If these look like something you fancy having a whack at then give the recipe I used a try, as in the end they got two thumbs up from the entire cast and crew. For ease, I’ve listed the ingredients and method below and have put changes I made in brackets:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 330ml almond milk
  • 250g plain flour  (+ an extra 20g to thicken the mixture slightly.)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda  (I used Bicarbonate of soda.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 120ml melted coconut oil   (I melted it first, in the jar, and measured it in it’s liquid state, rather than measuring it solid and melting it after.)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract   (+ extra 1 3/4 teaspoons.)

 

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Line two muffin tins with 18 paper cases. (I preheated my fan oven to 160 C)
  2. Pour the apple cider vinegar into a measuring jug. Fill with almond milk to make 350ml. Let stand until curdled, about 5 minutes. (I measured 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar into a bowl and then added 330ml of almond milk as per the ingredients list. All together it came to around 340ml, and I left it at that.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond milk mixture, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases, dividing evenly.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in the tin set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Ice with your favourite icing, if liked. (Originally, I baked them for 20 minutes at 180 C, as suggested, but the tops were brown and the middles raw. This is why I dropped the temperature to 160 C and baked them for around 30 – 40 minutes, checking them every so often. At first, I left them in the tins to cool and popped put them on a wire rack to finish them off.)

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I have to say they still turned out the teeniest bit stodgy in the middle, but that texture was 👌. Overly wet or mushy foods make me gag (I mean soup is a nightmare) but these were on point. Not raw but not super firm, just moist and melty. Mmmm. I’m salivating writing this, not going to lie.

I topped them with a vegan buttercream, the recipe for which I have linked here >> Vegan Buttercream<<. I found this on Holly’s blog, ‘The Little Blog of Vegan’, after searching for a while for a recipe that wouldn’t melt, would pipe and didn’t have a million ingredients I would have to go out and buy. Common sense told me just to substitute the butter for vegan butter, but having a recipe was a little more reassuring the first time I had made it. I have to say I’m absolutely pants at making buttercream, I don’t think I have ever got it right… up until now. Honestly, this was the best buttercream I’ve ever made.

To make it an Oreo buttercream, I used a 154g pack of Original Oreos and scraped the cream from the middle of each biscuit into the buttercream, putting the biscuits to one side. Once the oreo cream was mixed in to the topping, I piped it onto each cake using a star nozzle. I crushed the oreo biscuits pieces in a bag and then sprinkled them on top. It added a lovely crunch to the end product… and Oreos are just yummy.

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So there you have it Vanilla, Oreo and kind of coconut vegan cupcakes! Moist, sweet and totally moreish! I have definitely put these recipes in my makeshift cook book!

P.S. I have heard people question how vegan friendly Oreos really are, however the guys I was making these for are 100% OK with Oreos. If you are dubious, you can make them without… it’s only the topping after all!

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A Brush with the Death Eaters 🐍| Warner Bros. Studio Tour After Hours Event!

Any Harry Potter fans in the house? Can a get a Swish and Flick up in here? Ok my magical brethren and muggle allies, are you ready for this? I went back to Hogwarts, but this time it got fancy… ish. Fancyish. Like, not Yule Ball fancy, but kinda like, Halloween fancy. You get me?

Now, if you’ve read any of my other blog posts you’ll come to realise this was not my first time at the rodeo. I’ll leave links to my other adventures to the HP Studio Tour at the end of the post. Each of them give you a little bit more insight on a different exhibit or experience, so if you’re interested in the Hogwarts express, the Forbidden Forest or Hogwarts at Christmas, then the links will be down below. This was, however, my first trip to a special event.RAVENCKC copyLast month, The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter, alongside Groupon, hosted a Harry Potter after hours event, in which fans could enjoy the studio tour in it’s full glory once it had closed to the public as well as experience a few extras hidden along the way, and girl, trust me when I say it was worth it.

The deal cost £50.00 per person and included entrance to the tour once it had closed to the general public (for a standard adult (16+) it usually costs between £39.00 – £41.00pp alone), a souvenir guide book, a hot meal and drink (including limited hot drinks and alcoholic beverages for the 18+ wizards among us) and a Butterbeer served in a souvenir tankard to take home. Super good value for what you get and an absolute ball for die hard Potterheads like Nerdy Mcgerdy over here 🙋.BOOKCKC copyNow, aside from the fabulous tour itself, there were a few extra bits and bobs on offer that evening. The staff were friendly and fabulous, as ever, giving a few insightful little talks and tidbits on some of the larger sets they were stationed at, such as Dumbledore’s Office (and if you don’t walk past the giant eagle on your way in and obnoxiously shout ‘Sherbet Lemon’ before taking a shameless selfie, then are you even a Hogwarts alum?) They gave you an insight into Michael Gambon’s performance as Dumbledore and his ode to Richard Harris and which piece of set on the whole tour was the most expensive… that you never get to see!DUMBIECKC copyAs well as this, two of the prop makers from the film series, who were at the helm of all the wand making, were there showing you how they made each and every wand with live demonstrations. They let you in on a few inside secrets about anything from the wands, prop making in general or the film industry itself and how to get started. They were wonderfully insightful, chatty and incredible artists.WANDCOLLAGECKCThe next little extra was a brush with the dark arts: a chance to meet the Death Eaters. These guys were fab… and kinda scary, ngl. There were three Death Eaters to meet (or maybe two and one moved, I dunno. Numbers and geography aren’t my forte); one guarding the Malfoy Manor set, standing still as a statue and jumping out on unsuspecting victims… a.k.a me and my friend. One was prowling outside the Ministry of Magic and swooping across the entrance to the Forbidden Forest and the third was skulking about the dark alleyways of Diagon Alley, ready for a duel. I legit saw a kid pull a wand out of his pocket and start a fake duel and the Death Eater dude played along so well, dodging pretend curses and throwing all kinds of magic shapes. DEATHCKC copyIt was such great fun, as always, and the staff always do their upmost to make it special, from showing off their wand waving skills as we queued to pick up our tickets and guidebooks, to a simple, whispered “welcome to Hogwarts” as we entered the final room (cue the goosebumps. It gets me every time! Y’know how some people cry when they see the Disney Castle? That’s how I feel when I see Hogwarts.)

If you time it right, there is always something new to look at, with new props, costumes, displays and exhibits being added to keep it fresh. I honestly love this place. It really is magic and definitely something to add to the Potter pilgrimage if you want to visit a few of the sights from the films.

 

As mentioned, if you fancy a gander at a few of the other exhibits at the HP studio tour, then check out my posts from a few of my other visits. Click the links below:

>>Summer at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter ⚡️<<

>>Hogwarts in the snow ❄️<<

>>Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express 🚂<<

>>The Forbidden Forest 🌳<<

 

And as a Brucey Bonus: Here’s my post on >>The Cursed Child London<< (dw no spoilers #keepthesecrets)

Nox.

 

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