Saturday, 10 December 2016

Mangobean, Darlington

Mangobean is a relatively new cafe in Darlington. It's actually a chain cafe but I don't think I've ever come across another one before. They do all your typical Starbs coffee's as well as delicious Belgian waffles with brownies, ice cream and marshmallows - YUM. 

The decor is cool and has a kind of jungle theme to it. It's quirky which goes with the peculiar cafe name. Why Mangobean? I ordered a pumpkin spice cappuccino - any cafe that has pumpkin spice syrup is a winner. My friend went for a regular mocha and waffle (which looked amazing). 

The coffee was really yum but not quite as strong as I usually like it. They put the perfect amount of pumpkin spice in and I LOVED the coffee art. My friend said the waffle was nice but a little undercooked and dough-y. How delicious does it look though!

The thing that stands out about Mangobean is how cheap it is. My coffee was the large size, with an added syrup and still only came to around £2.95. It's what, half the price of Starbucks and arguably better as I find Starbs can be SO hit and miss.

Mangobean is definitely worth a coffee stop if you get the chance. Super inexpensive and yummy coffee with all the coffee options you could want. They actually have a special chilli latté on at the moment which I'm really keen to try. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

The Fossgate Social, York

On Saturday I went to York to catch up with a friend who I hadn't seen for 3 whole years! I hadn't been to York since last year which is crazy considering it's probably my favourite city - also where I was born and lived until I was 6. I get so many nostalgic feels whenever I go! 

A trip to York (or anywhere for that matter) meant coffee and cake was very much an essential. My friend recommended the Fossgate social which is a cafe bar - something I very much like the concept of. Brownie and a G&T anyone? I just think it's cool how you could be sipping a latte and eating cake while your friend is getting on 'the sesh'. L o l.

The aesthetic of the cafe was really cool too. Quite dark as you would expect a bar to be, but still with cafe styled decor. It was SO busy and we actually ended up sitting outside in the freezing cold... but hey, what are hot drinks for. 

I ordered a vanilla latté (they don't have syrups on display but I asked), my friend ordered an americano (I know, how boring) and we both went for the chocolate orange cake. The coffee was really really good. The coffee was strong and they put quite a lot of vanilla syrup in it. Some people might have found it too sweet but I'm a big fan of super sweet coffee and hate when they don't put enough syrup in. The cake was yum and tasted like Terry's chocolate orange.. but a bit on the dry side and could have definitely done with more icing. 

I would definitely recommend the Fossgate Social. The atmosphere is just really great and I'm definitely craving that coffee again right now. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Cutter & Squidge, Soho

Alas, I have another coffee place post! 

Just like Timberyard, I went to Cutter & Squidge when I was staying with my pal, Vicky in London. I'd say it's a very 'blogger styled' cafe - all white with lots of colourful decor. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by a long counter displaying the most incredible cakes. All perfectly iced, layered and decorated. SO MUCH YUM.

It was super busy which wasn't really surprising since it was a Saturday and clearly a popular place. We thought there was no free tables at first but we managed to find one - A major phew moment as I was super excited to try the coffee and cake here. 

I chose the chocolate chip dream cake and a salted caramel latte - 10 points to them for having salted caramel syrup mmmMMmm. I believe Vicky chose the Eton mess cake (or something pink and fruity anyway) and a matcha latte. I'd been curious about matcha latté's but Vicky let me try some of hers and I soon discovered they are not to my liking at all. Legit gross (no offence V). Matcha tastes like seafood to me but apparently that's a common thing? Oh well, at least it made my insta pic look prettier.. 

My cake was super yum but at the same time it was just sort of your standard super yummy chocolate cake. Nothing majorly ground breaking. It wasn't dry in the slightest which is something that can definitely make or break a cake - rhymes for daaaaaays. For someone that loves all sweet treats to be super indulgent, I actually found the icing was a bit light. After reading the website, this makes complete sense. The place is actually kind of health conscious and it says they aim to keep fat and sugar to a minimum in all of their products. In my opinion, I think if you're going to eat cake then you may as well go all out. No? I just think that if you're a super health conscious person then you're more likely to not eat cake at all or eat cake made with all clean ingredients.. so quite a niche market? But yeah, I guess it's cool to try and be a bit healthier. 

I'll stop ranting about that now. 

I tried a bite of Vicky's cake which was also lovely and had such a strong fruity flavour to it. Not surprising since they use actual real fruit in the cake and icing!

The salted caramel latté was soooO good. Perfect coffee strength, just the right amount of salted caramel. Perfection.

The coffee and cake came to around £9 something which is pretty expensive, but hey, it's London and a cute, perfect little blogger joint.. so totes worth it. No but seriously, despite it not being out of this world amazing, the cake was still tasty, the coffee was perfect and the atmosphere was very lovely. 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Timberyard, Soho

2016 has been quite the dramatic year. But amongst all the bad stuff, something good has come out of it for me - the discovery of my love of coffee. Coffee is just

e v e r y t h i n g.

And you're probably already aware of my relationship with coffee if you follow me on Instagram/Twitter as I don't really stop going on about it (sorry (although I'm not really sorry because, coffee)). 

Last week I went to London to see my absolute bestie, Victoria (y'all should check out her blog). She introduced me to Timberyard in Soho and oh my goodness, I'm kind of obsessed. 

It's basically the ultimate hipster esque coffee place. Very 'my aesthetic' with lots of black, white and pops of colour here and there. Of course there is free wifi and lots of seating available with plug sockets. Perfect for those super cool people who go to coffee shops with their MacBooks and sip on latté's all day while doing work. 

There was SO many cakes and yummy foods to choose from but Vicky highly recommended the crodough's so it had to be done. I went for a peanut butter and jam crodough aka half croissant, half doughnut. Have you ever heard of something that sounds so magical? Vicky went for the dulce de leche crodough and we both got a latté. I'm not even exaggerating when I say that the crodough was one of the nicest things I have ever eaten in my life. That dreamy layered texture of a croissant but with the sweet dough-nuty flavour and obviously mine had the addition of pb & j which was just, insanely good. It was also quite a big treat which I'm all for because if I want to indulge then I want to INDULGE.

The latte was also really good and THAT LATTE ART. The coffee flavour was quite strong but not overpowering and bitter at all. The only down side was that they had no coffee syrup as I always prefer to add a flavour rather than plain sugar. 

I think for the latté and crodough, it came to around £7 something which I think is actually very reasonably priced because 1) it's London, 2) the crodough was a good sized treat and 3) the crodough was the most delicious thing ever. 

I will just also mention that this place has such a good selection of vegan, dairy free and gluten free options. They even have almond milk which is great for all those non-dairy eating coffee lovers. 

Quite obviously I highly recommend that you visit Timberyard if you have the opportunity to do so. What a dream. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Christmas shopping made easy

For once I have decided to actually be organised and get the majority of my Christmas shopping done before December. Yep - who even am I? It probably helps that I'm feeling super supER festive this year, especially after visiting Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. I very much recommend for all you crazy christmas festive people out there! 

To make my Christmas shopping easier, I have been trying to buy a lot of the presents from the same places. If you have a wide range of gifts to purchase this Christmas, browsing through a catalogue is a great place to start. Especially if you're kinda lazy like me and want to be able to do all your christmas shopping from the comfort of your own bed! I also find actual Christmas shopping in shops is SO stressful when you've got a lot of things to buy. Whether you need to buy a present for a spouse or family member, a colleague or boss, you'll find what you're looking for, including home appliances, toys and games, accessories and the latest must-have fashion. Here are catalogues that stock gifts for all ages, from eight to 88.

1. Next

Next is one of the biggest catalogue companies in the country. This retailer has a presence on the UK high street, too, so you can pop into your local branch to make an application for a credit account or make a repayment. You can also apply online or over the phone, and you should receive a decision about your application in just a few minutes. If you've been accepted for finance, you'll be able to spread the cost of any purchases you make through the Next catalogue and make repayments in monthly instalments. You can have your items delivered to your home address, too, perfect if you live far away from the shops. Next stocks clothes and gifts for all ages, including children's toys, latest mens fashion and the latest womens fashion in a wide range of designs and styles.

2. Very

Very is another catalogue that caters to all ages. Very has items for every member of the family, including children's clothes and toys, as well as household items and consumer electronics. You can find everything from suits to laptops under one roof, saving you loads of time and hassle. Now you can open a credit account online. If accepted, you can spread the cost of payments and won't be charged any interest if you pay for your item in full within three months. For more details, check out the Very website.

So there you go - two great shops that sell something for everyone, making christmas shopping 10 times easier. 

Where do you like to do your Christmas shopping?

This post is sponsored by Zoom Online Media

Sunday, 13 November 2016

learning to drive: my experience

I haven’t written a blog post in 5ever but to be honest it’s just because there hasn’t really been anything to write about? I’m just a super boring person okay.

On the 6th November last year I had my first driving lesson and on the 31st October this year I passed my driving test! I still can’t believe it! (I also learnt and passed in an automatic car as I cannot work gears for the life of me).

Learning to drive is definitely the hardest, most challenging and stressful thing I have ever done in my life. This will probably sound a bit over dramatic to a lot of people but I honestly found it to be such a traumatic process. For almost an entire year I dreaded my driving lessons every Thursday and as you can probably guess, driving didn't come naturally to me. I thought the lessons would get less scary as I improved.. oh how wrong I was. In fact I was still super nervous for my last lesson.

There was a few weeks in a row about half way through my ‘learning process’ where I had some awful lessons. Everything seemed to go wrong. I cried after my lessons and seriously considered giving up. I pushed through though. Partly because I wanted to be able to drive more than anything but also because I’d spent way too much money by this point (£55 a week – very painful and I don’t even want to know how much I spent in total).

So I carried on which I’m actually really proud of myself for. Weeks went by where I felt like I made no progress at all but eventually everything kind of clicked. My driving instructor asked me if I wanted to get my practical test booked and I was just like ???????. By this point I kind of had it in my head that I wouldn’t ever get there but the time did come! I guess I’m just writing this to say that if you’re SUPER nervous about learning to drive or you’re getting disheartened by having weeks of lessons and not feeling like you’re making any progress, then don’t give up! Because seriously, if I can do it than anyone can – I kind of hate this phrase but it works perfectly in this case because I honestly started out as being the worst, most nervy driver ever.

I passed my driving test on the second attempt and I’m not going to lie, the two tests were the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. In fact I was so nervous that I kind of became beyond nervous and being in the test situation felt so? Surreal? I took some anxiety medication before both tests which helped a lot. I obviously still felt extremely nervous but the medication really helped to control my shaking. I am actually really good at working under pressure so once the first test started, everything seemed to go smoothly and I felt like I drove a lot better than in my lessons. I’m bad for relying too much on other people but obviously the examinors can’t tell you anything so I actually think that’s what made me drive a lot better. Unfortunately I failed my first test for driving too slowly on one road. An extremely annoying way to fail and ironically I think I drove too slowly because I was so overwhelmed by the fact that everything seemed to actually be going well.

I was super upset when I failed.. even though I thought I would fail (yes I’m a very pessimistic person). I found the failure thing difficult to cope with because I’d really tried so hard and yet it hadnt paid off. I got my second test booked for 3 weeks later and one lesson booked for before the test. That last driving lesson did not go well at all. In fact I basically messed up every manoever (except turn in the road) which knocked my confidence even more and I pretty much didn’t even consider that I would pass.

The test day came around and this time I had the most lovely examinor (the first one was okay but seemed a bit off and moody). He was really reassuring and that helped a lot, even though I still had no confidence in passing L O L. Again everything seemed to go smoothly except for when I thought i'd messed up on a roundabout and convinced myself I'd failed. The manoever I got was the reverse round a corner – my nightmare as I’d completely messed this up on my lesson before. I was kind of annoyed when he asked me to do it because I was just thinking, I’ve already failed so why are you asking me to do the most difficult manoever?! I ended up taking so much time over it because I really didn’t want to do it wrong.. and I didn’t!. 

When I eventually got back to the test centre I was already feeling pretty meh because I wasn’t looking forward to telling everyone I’d failed again. Then the examiner told me I had passed.

And I was just like, "WHAT?!

You know on X Factor when someone gets through to the next round and they’re like hysterical and crying and jumping up and down – that was me.

I gave my instructor a hug and the examinor was just sat laughing at me. It was just such an amazing feeling and I still get a little buzz when I think about it now. I’d never thought the day would come and I’m still finding it surreal that I’m now allowed to drive on my own! Best day ever.

Since I already had a car that I’d been practising in, I sorted out my insurance ASAP (another major challenge as insurance is ridiculously expensive) and I was off! I was super nervous about my first drive alone but literally after about a minute of driving it felt so normal and fun and just so EASY. Like ridiculously easier when theres no one watching and judging everything you do. The freedom of knowing I can go where I want and whenever I want is so cool. What a time to be alive.

Now to start saving for my Audi R8.

Friday, 12 August 2016

The most delicious chocolate fudge cake ever ever (can be made vegan)

I really enjoy getting my bake on every once in a while. I've suddenly developed a strong love for chocolate fudge cake. I didn't actually used to like chocolate cake.. nope, I don't understand either? 

Anyway, I decided to make a chocolate fudge cake. The one I made is just a little one as bigger cakes seem to go stale before me and my fam have time to get through them. This recipe makes the perfect little cake that serves 4 large slices or 6 smaller slices. It has the perfect level of chocolate fudgy-ness.

Oh and 'cute but psycho'. I thought it was an amusing phrase that sums me up pretty well. Jokes. I'm cool as a cucumber...
* shifty eyes *

You will need...
  • 90g of self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 75g of sugar
  • 1 beaten egg (or 1 tablespoon of oil mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking powder if you want it to be vegan)
  • 75ml of vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon of golden syrup
  • A small lined cake pan
  • Betty Crocker chocolate icing (optional but I v much recommend bc delicious)

Basically all you do is sift the dry ingredients together, make a well, add the dry ingredients and voila. Once the mixture is combined and super smooth, pour it into your lined cake pan and bake for around 20 minutes at 180 degrees celsius. 

Once out the oven, wait for the cake to completely cool and I mean COMPLETELY. Even if it's a tiny bit warm, the icing will melt and run everywhere. At this point you can do whatever you like with it. Buttercream is nice but my personal favourite is the Betty Crocker chocolate fudge icing. It is just completely heavenly (and also vegan if you want your cake to be vegan). 

And finally, devour. :)