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The Autumn Tag

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Happy Autumn! It is my favourite season, so you can only imagine my joy at being tagged in this by the lovely Emily! (She also tagged me in her Harry Potter post– she clearly knows all the good tags!) I think I am borderline Winter now, so this may now be somewhat irrelevant… scratch that, Autumn is still relevant. At least to me, anyway. And hopefully to you, if you are reading this.

What signifies Autumn to you?

When the cold weather begins to settle in, and the days get shorter as the leaves begin to change colour… there’s just something different about the way London looks when Autumn arrives! Dear old Phil Collins was certainly correct when he said there was something in the air tonight.

What is the best way to spend a rainy day?

I suppose this one is rather subjective, but, as odd as it may seem, I hate to be at home on rainy days! I much prefer being tucked away in a cosy coffee shop, with a pot of tea and a good read.

Perhaps it’s a little odd, and I’m certainly not one for dramatics, but, I rather enjoy watching the rain from the window. No, not with a moody soundtrack, I find it soothing, almost therapeutic in a way. Does anyone else do this or am I the odd one out?

What is your most fond autumn memory?

Before I embarked on an adventure with Bru Coffee & Gelato, I was a Costa Coffee faithful. That is to say, a franchisee (yes, I know, can you believe it?). One of our locations was in Oakham; a quaint little English village just outside of Leicester.

Oakham is a beautiful place, and the store itself was definitely my favourite out of the twelve or thirteen that we owned. It was almost like a decent sized cottage, with a wide wooden door and old-fashioned window framed. A couple of years ago, I remember spending the day there to do some HR work with the Store Manager. On my lunch break, I went for a little wonder around the village; through the church courtyard and around the grounds of the private school to a charming little bakery where I bought iced buns.

Later that day, when the sun began to set and the chill began to rise, there was a warmth in the store as I sipped my Gingerbread Latte, and the windows frosted over. In that moment, I genuinely appreciated the beauty of Autumn in England.

What is your favourite autumn scent?

Oh dear, this is where I am going to sound quite boring and maybe even like a cliché! It must be said, whilst I now despise Gingerbread Lattes, they smell like Autumn to me!

Coffee has become such a huge part of my life over the last ten years or so, and the scent of it always takes me back to fond memories. Back when the smell of coffee at home meant Papa was back from work; when my best friend Jessica and I used to keep ourselves warm with mochas in our hands; when weekends were spent in Northampton because a store was short staffed.

Recently, as I’ve spent quite a lot of time working in Central London and dashing up and down Oxford Street, the smell of freshly roasted chestnuts has become a firm favourite, too. Nothing warms you up mid-shopping like roasted chestnuts from a street vendor!

What are you most excited about this Autumn?

Without meaning to be emotional, I am actually looking forward to spending Autumn with my family for the first time in a long time! Having spent the last few years either at university or working in London, I have only spent the odd holidays here and there with my parents and younger siblings. I always associate the colder months as a time of togetherness, so it’s lovely to be able to do that this time around!

What is your favourite Autumn song?

Confession, I didn’t think there were any Autumn songs! However, for me, the real songs of Autumn are the sounds of this lovely season. The crunch of leaves; the rustle of trees; the wind blowing; the rain hammering down; and the cries of “it’s cold today”.

What is your favourite Autumn movie?

It has been a long time since I saw this film, so, excuse me if I’m wrong! I can’t explain why, when I read this question, When Harry Met Sally immediately sprung to mind.

What TV show are you most looking forward to this Autumn?

The Apprentice, without a shadow of a doubt! Yes, the candidates get considerably worse each and every year, but, this is a tradition in the Dadabhoy household! Every Wednesday, Papa and I religiously watch this programme together! And I do mean religiously.

Last year, I was staying with my grandparents in London. Halfway through an episode, my grandad opened the bathroom window to smoke, thus cutting the Sky signal (don’t ask how this works). Papa actually FaceTimed me with the television, just so I could watch!

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What is your favourite Autumn colour?

Oh, I love orange and red. I know some people associate Christmas with red, and I do, too. Yet, I believe red lipstick was definitely made for Autumn! And the orange bru cups match wonderfully with the changing leaves!

What is your most loved outdoor Autumn activity?

Talking a stroll through the park. It really is as simple as that. All you need is a hot chocolate and good company in a nice, big park. Preferably one with plenty of leaves to crunch through and adorable dogs to pet.

What is your favourite Autumn fashion trend?

My inner Parisienne is screaming about leather jackets, and whilst I have been known to try and attempt them in summer, it must be said that Autumn and leather jackets are a match made in heaven! Throw a white shirt underneath, swipe on some red lipstick and voila!

I’m rarely seen without my black one I bought from Hugo Boss. I did pay a few hundred pounds for it, but I have worn it for over three years and so often, it was worth every penny and I refuse to part with it- ever!

If you could have a familiar/ spirit animal, what would it be?

I do love a good cat, but otters are my new and favourite animal obsession. Mainly because they spend half their time looking for food, and the other half eating. That sounds about right, don’t you think?

Name one place you wish you could visit during Autumn?

It is my life ambition to see as many major European cities in their Autumn glory. I don’t know if this is just in my head, but Autumn feels like a very European thing to me. Paris, Munich, Prague… you name it, I want to visit it during Autumn! (Sorry, American friends, but, I am not a fan of anything pumpkin related so I don’t think I’d fare well over the pond!)

What is your favourite photo you took last Autumn?

I took a photo (and uploaded it to Instagram, of course) of St. James’ Park in London last Autumn, on my twenty-third birthday, now that I think of it. It was just a lovely and serene Sunday, and I was walking around London with a friend after we enjoyed a spot of birthday brunch. Quite honestly, there’s nothing quite like London in the months leading up to Christmas.

What are you being this Halloween?

Stressed and coffee obsessed! I didn’t share my chocolate, but, I did bring in these adorable bat shaped sprinkles to bru!

Now, let’s spread that Autumn cheer before Christmas arrives! I would like to tag the following lovely people, but, if you want to do this, too, drop me a message and I will tag you, too:

Corinne & Kirsty, Emmie, Freya, Imaan, Lois, Sinead

Here are some Autumn questions for you:

  1. Where does Autumn rank amongst the other seasons for you?
  2. Why will this Autumn be different to all other Autumns?
  3. What are your favourite Autumn flavours?
  4. Pumpkin Spice Latte: love or hate?
  5. What are your wardrobe staples for Autumn?
  6. Is there one thing you would change about Autumn?
  7. If you were in charge of Autumn, what one tradition would you bring about?
  8. Which books or films are best enjoyed in Autumn?
  9. Would you rather spent Autumn at home or abroad?
  10. Finish this sentence: Autumn is …

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#ItsBrumas

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It’s a rather strange notion, that for someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, it’s my favourite time of year. Well, when I say don’t celebrate it, I mean religiously. When you grow up in England, Christmas is an important part of the year. It grips the country in its magical grasp until everyone is belting Bublé or crooning like Carey. The festivities started rather early this year for me, no thanks to work, so without any more delay… it’s brumas!

Work hard, play hard. It’s true what they say. Crafting the perfect Christmas menu is bittersweet; of course, tasting and testing potential menu items is always fun. On the other hand, and this for all of you who ask me what entails running a coffee shop, there are ingredients to source and recipes to cost up. A photography session must be booked in (would you believe that this can take a whole day?) and promotional material needs to be designed. It’s oddly frustrating that despite this being our biggest campaign, it’s also the shortest, running for just under two months! There is a lot of work that goes in behind the scenes, so, when customers share Instagram photographs and tell me how much they enjoyed their bru, it is far more rewarding than you can imagine!

Behind the scenes

Now, what is there instore this year, I hear you cry! Sit down and prepare for a festive, indulgent treat!

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Cookies & Cream Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Christmas at bru is rather neatly summed up with the return of ho-ho-hot chocolate, all in festive flavours! Two have returned by popular demand.

Cookies & Cream is a sure-fire winner. Classic hot chocolate is mixed with a chocolate cookie flavour and topped luxuriously with whipped cream and an Oreo cookie. It’s all the deliciousness of chocolate and cookies in one jar!

Tis the season for Terry’s and the Orange Hot Chocolate is infused with orange syrup, and once again, topped off with whipped cream and of course, a piece of Terry’s Chocolate Orange. There is no doubt as to why this is a firm favourite!

My personal favourite is the Black Forest Hot Chocolate! I wanted this one to be perfect, as it is one of my all-time favourite Christmas specials! I particularly love the red sugar pearls and chocolate pieces we’re topping this hot chocolate with! Fruit and chocolate really does get you in the festive spirit!

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Gingerbread Latte

Coffee

Now, it is no secret that I live on a healthy diet of Flat Whites. Quite a contrast to the lattes I used to drink like water, once upon a time! But, it must be said, Gingerbread Lattes are a season staple. How adorable are the mini gingerbread men sprinkles?

Coffee and chocolate do make a great pairing. Throw some frosted mint in there and a Matchmaker on top and voila, you have the Mint Mocha! I have a feeling this would be the ideal drink to have before embarking upon Christmas shopping…

Waffles

Festive Waffle Pops

Waffle Pops

Oh, now I had a lot of fun with these little delights! Waffle Pops are a signature dessert at bru, and with Christmas around the corner, it seemed only fitting to throw some festivities at them! If you look closely, you’ll see they pair up perfectly with our hot drinks…

Cookies & Cream is filled with warm milk chocolate and even drenched in it! Crumbled Oreo cookie is sprinkled on top and to add a bit of decadence, it’s served with a scoop of Cookies and Cream Gelato!

ChocOrange oozes melted orange Matchmakers and is topped with milk chocolate. It comes with a piece of Terry’s Chocolate Orange and a scoop of Double Chocolate Gelato! I may or may not have made this one several times… just to get the ratio of Matchmakers right, I assure you…

Full Minty (yes, I credit myself as a genius for coming up with this name) boasts a mint Matchmaker filling and crumbled mint Aero pieces as a topping. And yes, this comes with Double Chocolate Gelato too!

Behind the scenes

Cakes & Gelato

I could describe each cake and each new Gelato, but, I won’t. All I will say is… Caramel Biscoff Gelato; Chocolate Orange Brownie; Black Forest Gâteau; Mint Chocolate Torte… have I piqued your interest yet?

Christmas has landed in all bru cafes across the nation as of 7 November 2017! Now you have read all about it, all that is left for you to go and try these tasty treats all for yourself! Don’t forget to share your snaps with me, so I can see you enjoy your bru! Simply tag bru and use the hashtag #itsbrumas !

Behind the scenes

Happy Brumas!

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Biscoff Gelato

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Orange Hot Chocolate

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Chocolate Orange Brownie

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Mint Mocha

To learn more about Bru Coffee & Gelato, request a Press release, or to book an interview, contact Fazelah Dadabhoy at faz@brandboard.co.uk.

Find bru online, on Instagram, on Facebook, and on Twitter!

The Harry Potter Tag

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Swish and flick! I wish I could say writing this post was as easy as that spell, (I’m sure Ron Weasley would beg to differ), but these questions really made me sit down and think! Like many of my generation, I grew up with Harry Potter.

I was six years old and had managed to somehow read all of the books in my school (I was well on track to be Hermione Granger before I even knew who she was). One night, after bitterly complaining for days, my father handed me a book called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. From then on, it became a tradition that we would sit down and read it together every night. He let me mispronounce ‘Hermione’ until the film was released…

Earlier this year, I finally went to the Studio Tour with him. With Autumn here, I am well and truly in the Harry Potter spirit. So, when Emily tagged me, I was over the moon that I get to relive the magic all over again!

What house are you in?
I am a proud Gryffindor! I promise, I didn’t cheat the Sorting Hat… Although, having been told I can be quite reckless and just go head first into things, I suppose I can see why this is the case!

What is your Patronus?
A Scops Owl. Unfortunately, I know very little about these animals. I was rather hoping for a cat or an otter…

What is your wand?
My wand is made of maple wood, is ten and a half inches in length, and contains the hair of a unicorn. Not to sound boastful, but I think the maple certainly does represent my ambition to be a high-achiever; I love a good challenge! Unicorn hair simply sounds magical and as someone who has never seen the allure of the Dark Side, I feel my wand rather does reflect me! If it only it were real…

What would your boggart be?
I am Ron Weasley in this respect because I am so morbidly terrified of spiders it’s embarrassing! Last year, I was living with my grandparents whilst on my internship and I had to wake my grandad up in the middle of the night because there was an enormous spider in my room. My boggart would be a spider and I would probably run in the opposite direction.

Failing that, a destroyed CHANEL Timeless bag would do it, too.

What position would you play in Quidditch?
Chaser, without a shadow of a doubt! Chasers see all the action and I’ve always loved those positions in muggle sports (no, that is most definitely not an innuendo). There’s something thrilling about scoring a goal, so being a Chaser would be the next best thing!

Would you be a pure blood, half-blood, or muggle born?
I can confidently say half-blood, seeing as my father introduced me to the magical world of Harry Potter, whereas my mother is neither here nor there.

What job would you want to have after graduating from Hogwarts?
I would love to run the wizard equivalent of a hipster coffee shop! Maybe it would have things like Organic Butterbeer or Hand-Crafted Fire Whiskey. I’m not sure, but it sounds like it would be a lot of fun to create! I’d do a better job of running it than Aberforth, for sure; no stray goats here!

Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose?
Would I be a cliché if I chose the Invisibility Cloak? Yes, but, I would choose it time and time again. I think playing with death is nasty business, and the Elder Wand is far too much power for little 5”1 me. But, with the Cloak of Invisibility, there’s much more potential! I could sneak into Fashion Week and slip out of awkward situations… oh, and spying on the staff to make sure they are indeed doing their job would always be useful, wouldn’t it?

Favourite book?
Ooh, now that is asking like a mother to choose between her children! Two stand out the most, and that is book three and book seven. I’m going to say The Prisoner of Azkaban, as it’s the most dog-eared out of my collection. I have reread that particular book so often and whilst I know it’s not many people’s favourite, I love it because that’s when the danger really starts to build. The story takes a darker turn and J.K. Rowling has captured both love and betrayal so well in it.

Least favourite book?
This one is shamefully easy! The Chamber of Secrets just never really tickled my fancy. I suppose it has something to do with those pesky spiders…

Favourite film?
The Goblet of Fire is a vastly underrated film in my opinion! Yes, of course I am annoyed that Dumbledore is not calm in this film (you all know which scene I am referring to), but visually, this is a beautiful film! The locations, the effects, the way the story is told is stunning! I particularly love the scene where Voldemort is reborn- the way they brought this to the screen is amazing and the casting is perfect.

Favourite character?
Hermione Granger was a role model to me growing up; I most definitely identified with her love of books and her frizzy hair. I still consider her as a role model. She is so strong and resilient, unabashedly herself and if we are being honest here, Harry and Ron would not have made it half as far as they did without her!

I think I fell in love with Hermione because Harry Potter was the first ‘grown-up’ book I read. And to see a smart, strong girl at the centre of it made me believe I could be that, too.

Least favourite/ most-hated character?
Alright, now, I know Umbridge is awful, but Bellatrix Lestrange is the character I hate the most. Reading about how she tortured the Longbottoms was what did it for me, but then she killed Sirius Black and well, that was the nail in the coffin. Umbridge is awful, but Bellatrix is disgusting. She goes above and beyond the realm of evil. I despise the way she simpers after Voldemort, and how gleeful she is about her actions.

Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?
There will never be anyone better than Professor Minerva McGonagall. Her no-nonsense approach and the way she is so protective over the students is simply wonderful. My McGonagall highlights include her duelling Severus Snape and giving the Dudleys a stern look in her cat form.

Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts?
I refuse to count Umbridge as a teacher because apart from serious self-control, she did not teach the students a thing. So, I suppose it will be Slughorn, because apart from the information he gave Tom Riddle about Horcruxes he doesn’t really serve any purpose. He’s a bumbling buffoon who thinks far too highly of himself and his penchant for parties with ‘important people’ makes him ridiculous. That’s not too harsh, is it?

Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?
With regards to the films, of course, like any fan, I have my grievances about the things they changed from the books. Equally, I think The Prisoner of Azkaban does not get enough credit- it is massively underrated in my opinion.

If you could save one character from the finale battle who would you save?
This is possibly one of the most terrible questions I have ever had to answer because it’s difficult to pick just one! But, I would choose between Tonks and Lupin. Having been a part of Harry’s journey, there’s some tragedy in Teddy Lupin growing up an orphan, and having Harry as his godfather; J.K. Rowling, did you do this on purpose?

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Now, over to you! I would like to tag:

Emmie

Of course, I would love to tag more people- I’m just not sure who is a Potterhead and who isn’t! If you would like to be tagged, do let me know!

My questions to you are as follows:

  1. Do you prefer the books or the films?
  2. Is there a scene from the books that you think they executed well on the big screen?
  3. What is your favourite quote from the series?
  4. Which character is underrated?
  5. How did you fall in love with Harry Potter?
  6. What food or drink from the wizarding world would you like to try?
  7. If you could be cast as a character, who would you play?
  8. What object would you choose to turn into a Horcrux?
  9. Who would you slip a Love Potion to?
  10. Which one of the Marauders are you most like?

Just the essentials

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It’s rather fascinating, isn’t it? Having a nosy and seeing what someone else carries in their bag; picking through the different things each of us needs on a day-to-day basis. Of course, my bag tends to change as often as my bank balance will allow. But, the ever changing-nature of my job, now that plays by a different rulebook altogether. As the Director of a Branding and Marketing business, these are just the essentials.

Business cards

If there’s zips and slots in my handbag you can guarantee there are business cards tucked away in there. Some are mine, but most are accumulated in my day-to-day life. I cannot emphasise just how crucial a business card is. Even if you think you do not need one, there is a strong likelihood that you actually do. It’s a neat little way to leave people with something to remember you by, something that isn’t your name and email hastily scribbled on a napkin. And there are so many wonderful designs- how quirky are these bru ones?

Camera

One of my favourite things about the Olympus EPL-7 is how compact it is for the stunning photographs you can snap with it. I tend to use this most of the time, even for Instagram, because, well, I suppose that’s what life is like when you specialise in Social Media. Currently, it houses a range of photographs from Flat Whites to a Bridal Shower to flatlays. Naturally, I used it to take this photo so here’s my old Canon instead.

CHANEL

For confidence and courage, of course. There’s just something je ne sais quoi about CHANEL No5, and I cannot think of a single situation that hasn’t been vastly improved with a bit of CHANEL.

Lipstick

Or rather, lipsticks. Emphasis on the plural. I seem to accumulate a new lipstick every time I go shopping, and they start off in a neat row on my bedside table before eventually ending up in depths of my handbag. There are two that can be found without fail, however; Pillowtalk by Charlotte Tilbury and Gabrielle by CHANEL.

Motivation

Continue d’avancer – keep going. A little motivation never goes amiss, and being the self-proclaimed Parisienne that I am, these few words lend a helping hand when I need it most.

Notebook & Pen

Despite the technological world we live in, it’s surprising how often I find myself reaching for my notebook and pen, especially when it comes to meetings. As a self-professed stationery addict, I’ve been stockpiling this bullet variety from Monograph. It’s such a beautiful design and sleek enough to fit in my bag.

Phone

Although, let’s be honest for just a minute here. This usually starts off in my pocket before migrating to my hand for the rest of the day.

Purse

If we’re being pedantic, this is just my little one that I use most days. It was a present and quite honestly, it’s perfect! Ted Baker is one of my favourites when it comes to British fashion, and I love the classic design of this purse. I tend to keep just the essentials in it and save my big purse with my one million loyalty cards in for shopping trips!

Sunglasses

Small confession, I am definitely one of those people that wears sunglasses at every opportunity I can. I do find that my eyes are very sensitive to light, but I feel like this rose gold pair just add a touch of glamour to my outfit… and hide my tired eyes before I’ve had my morning coffee! They are a bit battered now, so ignore the many marks…

Vaseline

I think I must have one of these tubs everywhere! In my make-up bag, in my bathroom, in the glove compartment… but this limited edition Lulu Guinness Doll Face variety is too cute to leave behind!

Watch

If I had a choice between my phone and my watch… I would probably have a nervous breakdown. The few times I have forgotten my watch at home seem to end in disastrous days, especially as it’s still my instinct to check my wrist for the time. Fossil is undoubtedly my favourite brand when it comes to watches; the design and quality is unparalleled. I bought this Q Wander last time- I decided it was high time to say goodbye to my previous Fossil watch that I had worn for ten years! It’s one of those fancy smart watches, but I love that it resembles a classic analogue watch. Nothing beats the classics!

And on a final note… has anyone seen my earphones? I can’t seem to find them anywhere!

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Street Eats Fest

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“Food, glorious food.”

Ah yes, that famous number from Oliver that seems to perfectly describe the meaning of life, in my humble opinion at least. Perhaps you can’t tell because I stand at a mere 5’1, but food is a particular passion and pastime of mine. Naturally, the promise of Streets Eats Fest was just too good to resist.

Old Spitalfields Market is a favourite haunt of the Dadabhoys, having spent a large proportion of my childhood holidays with dear old Papa there (this was back when he used to work for the banks that line Liverpool Street). It was actually a very nostalgic trip for him, as he pointed out the various buildings he remembered from his banking days. So, it was rather fitting that the trip down memory lane ended in food. Some fathers and daughters bond over cars, some over sports. Papa and I? Well, we bond over those things too, but food is the holy grail for us.

Streets Eats Fest was organised by Halal Gems, a nifty little website (and now app!) that points you in the right direction of, you guessed it, halal food. It was a welcome sight, knowing there was so much food on offer, all of it halal. The winning factor? It wasn’t just the stereotypical Indian cuisine. And the halal factor wasn’t in your face.

Halal food can seem so limited and restrictive, particularly in the Western world. There’s a misconception about halal food, and it was great to see a food festival shift that perspective. It was good, wholesome food that everyone could enjoy, and I do mean everyone. There were meat options, veggie options and vegan options. Not once did I hear the fated question; “is it halal?” I’ve never seen such a mix of people and cultures come together to simply enjoy food.

Now, I would say the queuing time was terrible, but it was a Saturday in London, so really, did I expect anything less? It did mean strategizing the queues I wanted to join, however.

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Rola Walla

A sourdough naan filled with chicken tikka, coriander, pickles and sev (an indian savoury snack). I would never think to add sev to a wrap, but it made all the difference! It’s all in the crunch! Sev aside, the chicken itself was marinated beautifully and was so tender. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a wrap so fast!

Papa tried the combo wrap, so his chicken tikka had the addition of beetroot dhal. I have to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of beetroot to begin with, so I wasn’t particularly taken by it, but I will say it provided a nice contrast to the chicken.

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Wafflestick

Alright, alright, I am aware that I am biased, so I will try my best to be as fair as I can. I love the concept! A waffle on a stick, piled with delicious toppings… it looks heavenly and will of course, be instagrammed. I absolutely love the branding, it’s so cute and quirky. And I love the way it’s served too.

As for the waffle itself, I unfortunately just wasn’t wowed by it. I ordered the Biscoff variety, but I couldn’t taste any Biscoff at all! I was expecting a healthy dose of the stuff… My waffle was covered in white chocolate, half a Speculoos biscuit and some fudge pieces. I probably could have done with more toppings, because the waffle was very doughy and needed flavours to balance that out.

Papa, with his peanut butter addiction, went for the Reese’s combination. He concurred about the waffle, and also the toppings- the ratio of Reese’s cups to the size of the waffle just wasn’t quite right.

Perhaps these guys can be forgiven as they were rushed off their feet, but I was a little underwhelmed, especially as they have a great concept going!

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Chit Chaat Chai

I just want to start by saying I adore the name! It’s a great pun, it has alliteration and contains two very important aspects of Indian street food.

I did sample the Chaat, and it was lovely! I certainly didn’t look attractive with Tamarind sauce dripping down my chin, but the yoghurt puris were delicious! They were perfectly crispy and generously filled to the brim.

Karak Chai is certainly more up my street than Masala Chai, which is why I probably didn’t enjoy the Masala Chai as much as I would have liked. But, I cannot deny you could taste all of the spices- it was exactly the kick we needed to head back out in the rain. Next time, I’d love to give the Keema Pau and the Samosas a try, because they did look very tempting.

Ah, the ones that got away. I had a train to catch, so I only got to sample the above three vendors. I’m gutted Oli Baba’s was closed for business- I had been craving halloumi fries all week! If there had been more time, I would have definitely gone for the Korean fried chicken wings at Bintang (see what I mean about not just Indian cuisine?). The Dutch pancakes smelt heavenly and there was Persian ice cream too, which looked almost too pretty to eat.

Streets Eats Fest was most definitely the right way to spend a Saturday! It’s a shame the insane queues put a dampener on the day, but I’ll be looking forward to the next one!

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London Coffee Festival

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Coffee?
Coffee.

The simplest of exchanges and yet the very mention of caffeine is enough to spark a little excitement. Having been in the coffee business for more years than I can count, I thought it was about time I popped down to the Old Truman Brewery.

Coffee culture has taken the world by storm. Gone are the days where a cup of coffee is just that- a cup of coffee. Cappuccinos are the new cosmopolitans and latte art is a must have. Costa and Starbucks, whilst both popular in their own respective rights, don’t always hit the spot for the coffee connoisseurs (or snobs, whatever you prefer to call us) and as a happy result, independent brewers are the belle de jour.

In retrospect, Costa Coffee was my first foray. My teenage tastebuds had a penchant for their gingerbread lattes, and as dear old Papa was a franchisee, this sickly-sweet goodness was practically on tap. Naturally, they were my first port of call for a job, and I was whipping out my own hand-crafted coffees in no time. Not long after, I progressed into the Head Office before joining the high-stakes game and becoming a franchisee myself. It was short-lived, as last year we dusted our hands of the business altogether.

More recently, I became the latest recruit at Bru Coffee and Gelato, bringing my Social Media expertise to the table. Independent and local, this coffee joint is far more me than your average high street chain.

Have you ever been to the London Coffee Festival? It certainly draws in the London locals. From traders to sellers, drinkers to baristas, it’s so fascinating to see the humble cup of coffee bring so many individuals together under one roof. The conversations are certainly a talking point (no pun intended), purely because of the passion that these curators have for their art. Whether they’re explaining their various blends, or telling you the history behind the brand, it’s incredible that a cup of coffee is elevated beyond morning fuel.

Sandows

Ah, the photogenic bottle of Cold Brew Coffee that wouldn’t look out of place during the prohibition period. It’s a very refreshing drink, and the lovely folks at Sandows got the caffeine buzz through the queue.

What exactly is it? Cold Brew differs to Iced Coffee, in the way that it’s extracted. With Iced Coffee, the espresso is extracted in the traditional way- hot water pushed through compacted, ground coffee. With Cold Brew, the coffee granules are left to soak in water over a period of time.

The difference is evident in taste. Cold Brew is very light, and doesn’t have that bitter taste that’s so prevalent in Iced Coffee. If you’re looking to dabble in Cold Brew, Sandows is the perfect place to start and stocked by most coffee connoisseurs.

Grind

One can hardly discuss coffee without mentioning Grind. With an expanse across the city of London, Grind serves everything from freshly crafted coffee to cocktails. A gritty, city aesthetic, they’re fast becoming a fan favourite in London’s coffee scene.

It was no surprise that their pop-up at London Coffee Festival was buzzing with activity all throughout the day, as they served flat whites to the masses. This is a coffee shop that has truly cracked the code. No detail is too small, and they display a great commercial awareness with great tasting coffee and instagrammable locations. From a business perspective, what Grind has managed to tap into so well is the late-night market. Coffee is no longer reserved for the morning.

My personal favourite is Soho Grind, mainly because of the bright red neon sign that reads French lessons given downstairs; but Shoreditch comes in at a close second with its witty slogans. Feeling fancy? Royal Exchange is right up your street.

Minor Figures

There was a time when the coffee scene was all about the chai. Purebred or dirty (with a shot of espresso), it was a guarantee that at least one person in the Starbucks queue was going to order a chai latte. Powder trumps syrup, but Minor Figures have an even better option.

A concentrate that goes back to the basics of chai. A quick whiff perfectly details every single spice, and it’s straight from the leaf- no added ingredients, whatsoever. It leaves you with the most beautiful flavour that warms your heart.

The Minor Figures gang were generous enough with their samples, and I’ve been frothing up my own chai lattes with their organic concentrate since. While you’re at it, pop open a can of their Nitro.

Brass Monkeys

As cold coffee peaks in popularity, one of its many forms is Nitro. For the uninitiated amongst us, this is Cold Brew filled in a keg and poured on tap. The most common way to describe it is describing the look and pour akin to a Guinness.

Brass Monkeys were a friendly bunch, eager to share the story behind the bottle and tap. London locals who pride themselves on the bold flavour thanks to the way they brew the stuff. Their Nitro is bursting with flavour and slips down easy as anything.

Mörk

Fear not! It might be called the London Coffee Festival, but it extends far beyond into the realms of tea and hot chocolate. One that certainly stood out was Mörk. Still relatively new to the UK, Mörk are chocolate artisans originating from Down Under.

The gentleman was kind enough to concoct up their Original Dark 70% blend, and it was beautifully velvety and rich with flavour, without being a gimmicky, sweet hot chocolate. The minimalist packaging and Scandi vibes are sure to attract a hipster or two, but these fellows are the premium of all hot chocolates.

I suppose it goes without saying, doesn’t it? Spending the day with an ever-changing espresso in my hand, learning about the origins of different beans and just being in such a highly caffeinated environment rather made my day.

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Offside

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“If you’re such a football fan, name a player who’s scored one hundred goals and played for both Aston Villa and Liverpool.”

It’s astounding, isn’t it? That we are in the twenty-first century and there are still men who think having boobs and possessing a passion for sports simply cannot co-exist within the same person. It’s a tale as old time, and a battle I have been fighting for as long as my memory can recall. Supposedly an all-inclusive field (no pun intended), why has sexism not been given the red card?

I can distinctly remember the first time I faced abuse as a female obsessed with the beautiful game. I must have been fifteen-years-old and absolutely smitten with Liverpool’s latest hotshot number nine- Fernando Torres. Despite El Niño’s swishy blonde mane and sharp cheekbones, it was his nifty footwork and sensational scoring partnership with Steven Gerrard that rekindled my Liverpool love. I was perfectly aware that the other girls in my year preferred skin-tight Superdry t-shirts over football jerseys. They wore foundation and expensive perfume when all I had in my make-up bag was a tube of mascara and old eyeliner. It never bothered me, until a double period of Chemistry where two boys threw my Liverpool backpack around the lab and reduced me to tears with their harsh words and hurtful jeers. They showed no sign of remorse and I hardly expect them to now.

Undeterred, I decided that the best counter measure I could take was to start a blog about football, and naturally, being the determined individual that I am, I did. I wrote about the Liverpool games I watched, before progressing to YouTube, where I once again bore the stung of discrimination. I was seventeen-years-old and terrified, as I read the threats of anonymous male viewers. Viewers who threatened to rape me because of the football team I supported. Viewers who warned me they would kill me because of my brown skin. I was a seventeen-year-old girl.

Now, at twenty-three-years-old, I find myself still trapped by the archaic belief that as a female, I can never truly understand the offside rule. To which I’d like to say; of course I understand the offside rule; I’m not a referee!

Something that has bothered me for much longer than I care to admit is the perception of myself as a football fan. It’s almost embarrassing, how I sat and thought about how men would see me. Would I forever be labelled as ‘the tomboy’; the chill girl who’s cool because she can talk transfer windows and league tables; but never attractive because she’s ‘one of the boys’? Perhaps I was intimidating because I knew far too much about footballers and not regular guys? Or maybe guys just thought I was a football phony; a pretty little princess who was trying too hard as a way of flirting with them? If I was so into sports, why was I taking the perfect selfie for Instagram and enjoying shopping for the perfect pair of heels? Worse, what if all they did was objectify me as that girl, the kind who can be found on The Lad Bible, with a cropped sports jersey and a thong, sexily nibbling on a slice of pizza?

A quick scour of the internet only seemed to aggravate the situation, with ridiculous articles such as How to watch football with your boyfriend and 15 reasons why you should date a girl that loves football populating Google’s pages. Apparently, a female football fan can only be either one extreme or the other. After all, having a vagina makes it biologically impossible to enjoy football. God forbid sports is actually appealing to women!

Bullshit.

Pardon my French, it’s very rare I resort to a curse word but quite frankly, this little essay is all about defying stereotypes, is it not? To put it simply, I am frustrated at how accessible sports is for men and not for women. Society has a nasty habit of labelling every activity with a gender and football is no different. How many times have we girls doubted ourselves? Whether it’s our opinion on the government or the football team’s colours we sport, there is always someone who will stand up and tell you that you simply don’t understand, but it’s alright, it’s not your fault, you’re a woman.

Bullshit.

You can kiss my rose gold Nike Airs. After years of feeling inadequate and uncomfortable in my own skin, it’s about time I left my inhibitions at the Shankly Gates, don’t you think? Whether I’m in a dress or a pair of jeans, you can count on my winged eyeliner and love of Liverpool combined being sharp enough to cut you to pieces. It’s 2017; stop judging women as girls who like football and start respecting them as football fans.

Oh, and to answer the original question; Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane.

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Beauty Blogger Tag

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We bloggers, we love our tags! I must admit, I got a little carried away with this one because I adore sharing my thoughts on all things beauty and make-up! The lovely Chloe from What Chloe Wrote nominated me to answer a few beauty mind bogglers.

Mes réponses…

What make-up product can’t you live without?

Let’s talk about sex, baby. Because my current favourite is Too Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara. It’s such a subtle way to make your eyes look wider and awake; it’s the first thing I reach for in the morning! I most definitely apply it to my lower lash too- I don’t understand people who don’t!

The correct way to apply mascara is to wiggle the wand into the roots of your lashes and gently zig-zag them through, making sure to brush out any clumps with a lash comb. This mascara works wonders with one coat, but the jury’s out if it’s Better Than Sex

Favourite hair care product?

In my misguided youth, I was convinced that if a product was premium priced, it would solve all my hair related problems. How very wrong I was! Lush’s American Cream conditioner has since converted me. It smells heavenly, of strawberries and cream- hence the name! What really won me over was just how amazing my hair feels after using it! My hair tends to be on the frizzy side of long and thick, but American Cream has a way of smoothing it and making it more manageable!

Favourite perfume?

Insolence by Guerlain. This is a concoction that is ultra-feminine and very sexy. I can only describe it as sex in a bottle! You need a healthy dose of confidence to wear this, which makes it perfect for a game of seduction. I just adore the way it makes me feel, so I save it for special occasions. It’s very French and very self-assured, which is an odd way to describe a perfume; but, it’s a powerful scent. This is one you have to test to understand what I mean!

Why did you start blogging?

Part naivety and part creativity. I was sixteen, or seventeen, years old and had just discovered the likes of Jenna Marbles and Kingsley on YouTube. I loved their raw honesty and the way they made me laugh- and I do mean laugh! The kind where you have to hold your stomach and catch your breath.

I suppose I was a little inspired, because I wanted to relate to people and I wanted them to relate to me. I didn’t have the confidence or personality of Jenna or Kingsley, so I wanted to blog about something that was me. I settled on football in the end, and I rather enjoyed it! I was successful too, which I am quite proud of. Alas, I started university and soon other things occupied my time. And when I decided to get back to blogging, I was passionate about different aspects of my life.

What do you love most about blogging?

I love having a platform where I can share my innermost thoughts and musings with the world, whether they may be about travel, current affairs or my favourite beauty products. It pushes me creatively and stylistically, and lately I’m loving that I feel confident in writing about things that are a little more personal.

Favourite celebrity style?

Emmanuelle Alt, without a shadow of a doubt. She is the most Parisian of us all in my opinion, and I admire her greatly. What I love about her is her ‘uniform’. A button-down shirt, jeans and a pair of heels are so often her outfit of choice and she somehow makes something so simple look so elegant. As this is a combination I have often turned to, she has given me the confidence to wear it with pride- before I truly discovered fashion, I felt shy about wearing the same combination so frequently as I thought people would mock me. But, now I channel my inner Emmanuelle Alt every time. If it works for VOGUE Paris’ Editor-in-Chief, it works for me!

Must follow on Instagram?

Audrey, from Frassy. She was one of the first bloggers I ever discovered, and I cannot tell you how much I love her. She is so inspiring and a truly empowering woman! I aim to be as honest as her one day when it comes to my blog. She’s an old-school blogging powerhouse that way- a very no-nonsense kind of girl! Her Instagram is a careful curation of very beautiful photos, but sheer honesty. It’s incredible that she can combine fashion with politics and body image, showing the two can co-exist. I am woman, and I can post about both my political standings and that cute pair of shoes I bought!

Lipstick or lipgloss?

I am going to be brutally honest now- I absolutely despise lipgloss. I never saw the appeal, even as a young girl. I wore it, but that’s because my mother refused to let me wear lipstick, only the brightest pink gloss. The texture is awful, and my long hair constantly sticks to it! It makes a right mess and I hate my lips looking shiny!

Now, the humble lipstick, that is more to my liking! It’s just so timeless and ladylike. Applying it is a sacred ritual and oh, there are so many to choose from! But, of course, nine times out of ten, I will choose a classic red.

Et toi?

Imaan, Lindsay, Lois, Sinéad – I think this tag is one you’ll like! Time to spill your secrets!

What is your favourite high street beauty product?
Which beauty blogger do you always turn to for beauty advice?
Most instagrammable beauty product out there?
What do you make of Huda Beauty?
What is your favourite high end beauty product?
CHANEL or Dior?
What is your most embarrassing beauty blunder?
Share a beauty tip?

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Montmartre

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There is a French saying, and roughly, it translates to something like; ‘there is more of Montmartre in Paris than there is Paris in Montmartre’.

There is an undeniable image of the Moulin Rouge, the infinite sex shops that line the streets, and the Café des 2 Moulins where Amélie once waited. All magnificent in their own rights, of course. But to a Parisian such as myself, Montmartre holds much more magic than that.

On my last few visits to the City of Lights, my friends and I have firmly upheld the tradition of heading to Montmartre first. Blessed with beautiful on all occasions, the Sacré-Coeur is without a doubt our starting point. None of us have a particularly religious affiliation with the church, but it is remarkable. The way the pure white stone seems to shine brilliantly across the blue sky.

Even the herds of tourists with their selfie sticks are more hushed here; as they stand to admire the great domes and the ever-present twang of a harp. The steps of the Sacré-Coeur offer a most breath-taking view of Paris, and there’s nothing better than simply letting your eye wander over typically Parisian rooftops that seem close enough to step on. Up here, the city is quite literally beneath your feet.

My fondest memory is from my first year, where I sat with friends I had just made on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur. It was a beautiful day, and I wished I had packed my sunglasses. I remember this sense of calm. Although, none of us knew each other too well, we bonded in that moment. And most importantly, of course, we felt very Parisian.

The Sacré-Coeur is extravagantly beautiful inside too. Unfortunately, or happily, depending on which way you look at it, I don’t have any photographs. The Church does ask visitors not to take any, and as a mark of respect I never have. Whilst it is a destination for tourists, it still is a place of worship for many. That itself is what makes the Sacré-Coeur so remarkable. In a country that prides itself on staunch secularism, this church remains a symbol of hope for those that still pray there.

Behind the Sacré-Coeur lies a rich history, one plagued with death and religion versus the State. Perhaps a little too heavy a subject for now, but a bloody story well worth a read.

Far from the safest neighbourhood in Paris, Montmartre is an intricate little maze of streets and sights alike, all waiting to be discovered. Ignoring the less than charming men who try to arm you with bracelets (and these really should be avoided), there are little shops filled with trinkets and quaint treasures. Vintage shops with designer pieces and concept fashion. Let’s not forget the sheer abundance of cafes and bistros, with prix fixe menus that include espressos and crêpes. It is an undeniable truth that the French know how to cook.

My words and my photographs can only help you imagine so much about Montmartre, it is simply somewhere you must stop the next time you find yourself in the City of Lights. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a serenity I have felt every time. I suppose it’s typically French in that way, in that it is unabashedly itself. It is dirty, and it is raw with graffiti, but it’s Paris. This is the Paris that belongs to its inhabitants, the ones who work hard to make rent and pay for a pack of cigarettes. This is the Paris that belongs to artists, having played home to Degas and Van Gogh and even now, there is no shortage of painters perched at café tables.

It sounds odd, to say that in a city famed for its beauty and romance I love the lesser travelled streets where I can blend in with the locals, but I suppose I’m Living Like a Parisienne for a reason. Experiencing a city as if one lives there is just that little bit more special than playing tourist.

Montmartre is more than a seedy neighbourhood nestled in the city of Paris. When the tourists are a little too much, and you want to experience Paris beyond the Eiffel Tower, climb the hill and bask in the magic of Montmartre.

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La Mer x Glossybox

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“La mer
qu’on voit danser
le long des golfes clairs”

A sea foam blue box delivered to my door was a welcome sight on the gloomiest day in Britain. Charles Trenet’s melodious voice echoed through the house, and I walked through it as if treading on sand, my little blue box held aloft. Skies were stormy outside, but with my Glossybox, it was sunshine inside for me.

Like many La Mer admirers before me, I had been waiting for the all-important email that marked the early sale of this limited edition Glossybox. And with good reason! La Mer is possibly the most coveted skincare brand; the signature Miracle Broth creating quite the reputation. As it sits at the premium end of the price scale, this was an excellent way to sample the products without breaking the bank.

It’s no secret that packaging can make all the difference, and Glossybox x La Mer is a daydream. It’s quintessentially minimal, but with the assured touch of luxury. It was a real treat, unravelling the ribbon and unveiling the beauty within. The avid instagrammer in me was delighted at the sea-inspired colours. As I had just purchased a new camera, the Olympus PEN E-PL7, I can’t think of a better subject to have photographed first!

There are six products in total; a blend of the cult classics that brought La Mer its fame, and some of the newer additions. At an estimated value of £118, forking out a mere £40 for six of the best skincare products is an absolute bargain. It means I can sample a little of everything, and if my graduate salary allows, possibly purchase one or two of the one I like the most. The only problem is, after a week of using La Mer, I think I’m in love…

La Mer Cleansing Micellar Water…

I was very excited to try this product! Since Micellar Water has trickled down on to the high street, I’ve preferred it over make-up wipes. La Mer’s version is gloriously refreshing and removes every trace of make-up rather easily. Even my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner didn’t stand a chance! The scent was a little clinical, but other than that, I simply can’t fault La Mer’s Micellar Water.

La Mer Intensive Revitalising Mask…

Who doesn’t love the way their skin feels after a face mask? La Mer’s concoction is perfect for breathing life back into drab skin that’s in desperate need of some TLC. All it takes is eight minutes for skin that’s restored with suppleness. This product didn’t stand out for as much as some of the others, but I suppose that’s because of my oily skin, I prefer a mask that takes no nonsense from my pores.

The Revitalising Hydrating Serum…

This product is single-handedly responsible for my love affair with La Mer. As I mentioned before, I have incredibly oily skin. Finding a moisturiser that controls shine is a full-time job in itself. Murad has been keeping me happy, but then along came La Mer. I am going to need a higher salary because this is it. I have never seen my skin look so healthy and radiant, but also without a trace of shine… all day long. If you have oily skin, I recommend trying the Revitalising Hydrating Serum because it is a miracle worker!

The Treatment Lotion…

Moisture has never been much of an issue for me, but for those days when the weather had made my skin a little worse for wear, I found myself reaching for La Mer’s Treatment Lotion. It’s moisture packed into a tiny little bottle! You can expect radiance, all with even tone and improved texture. Just a few drops is all it takes!

The Eye Concentrate…

Courtesy of my job, I find myself staring at various screens for hours on end with not much snooze time, so I was intrigued to see what this product is all about. While I don’t think my eye contour needs too much TLC, the skin did look much healthier after using the Eye Concentrate and my concealer applied far better too.

Crème de La Mer –  The Moisturising Cream…

Ah yes, the Holy Grail. There’s very little I can say about this moisturiser that hasn’t been said before. All I will add is, it lives up to its reputation.

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The verdict? I am well and truly in love with La Mer. I’m not normally a fan of subscription boxes, but I’m thrilled I forked out for this one! The premium price and celebrity status certainly makes sense, because their products do make that difference in my skin care routine. Of course, as with any product it is all about trial and error- there’s not always one solution that works for all. Except perhaps Crème de La Mer