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Lifestyle: Movie Nights at Home - My Essentials

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My Movie Night Essentials

I don't know about you, but these days, I much prefer a movie night at home over going to the cinema. Of course I do enjoy the odd cinema trip now and then but personally, now I have my own home, there's nothing better than getting snuggled up at home with Alex and Mia, sticking my favourite movie on and indulging into lots of naughty treats. 

For me its always a special treat and a great "date-night in" idea. 

So, if I'm having a movie night at home, what are my essentials for the evening? 

Popcorn & Sweets

First of all, its a given that I've got to be stocked up on popcorn - Sunbites sweet and salty is current favourite of mine. Sweets? Chocolate raisins always go down a treat, although I do have a habit of eating these far too quickly, otherwise some mini marshmallows will do! 

My Favourite Film

The most important part? You need your favourite film to watch. Luckily we've got the movies package with Sky so can pretty much find any of our favourites in their movie library. 

I know the screens are usually huge at the cinema but you don't fret, I still think you can get that home movie sound and picture experience, especially if your watching on a HD 4K TV. 

Check out the range of Ultra HD 4K TVs from Panasonic for your own home movie experience!


If you follow me on Instagram you'll notice that I have a huge obsession with candles, they are literally everywhere in my living room. 

Recently I've been experimenting with moving furniture and homeware decor around in the living room and stumbled across these gorgeous marbled stone (kitchen) accessories in John Lewis which I have been using as a foundation for my candle arrangements. 

Lighting all of the candles creates a cosy, warm ambience that you really can't recreate anywhere else but home. 


Having a mid-week movie night? This is where those small 187ml wine bottles come in handy! If I'm having a movie night I'll always grab my favourite red wine tipple from the supermarket on my walk home from work. This is definitely one home movie experience you can't get in the cinema! (unless your going to an Everyman Cinema of course). 

Cosy Blankets

Do you ever feel super cold in the cinema? Whenever I go to my local Cineworld its actually bloody freezing! I end up watching the film shivering hidden under my coat. At home, no problemo! 

There's nothing I love more than pulling on my warmest slipper socks and snuggling down with a fluffy, oversized throw. 

A Companion 

Movie nights home alone are alright, but its much more enjoyable when you've got a companion, or two! Mia (the cat) will always get cosy with us which is super cute and again - this is something I definitely wouldn't be able to have in the cinema!

What are your movie night essentials? Do you prefer trips to the cinema or movie nights at home?


(*) This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Panasonic and their new line of Ultra HD 4K TVs. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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Lifestyle: My Top 10 Wedding Planning Tips For Busy Brides-To-Be

wedding planning tips for busy professionals

My 10 Top Tips For Busy Brides-To-Be

Firstly, if you're reading this, likelihood is your getting married, so BIG congratulations on your engagement!

Secondly, I know first hand how daunting wedding planning can be. I'm in the middle of it right now with 8 months to go. 

I got engaged in October, so only four months ago and as I mentioned, we are getting married in 8 months on Thursday 26th October this year so... I've had a year to plan an entire wedding on top of juggling a full-time job, a blog, a social life and general life admin and day-to-day activities! 

I'll be honest, time isn't really on our side, yes ideally I would have agreed to a leisurely two-year engagement with plenty of time to both enjoy being engaged without the worry of an imminent wedding but unfortunately family health issues don't permit, so it is the way it is and I wouldn't have it any other way if it means I am able to enjoy my big day, surrounded by all the most important and special people in my life. 

I know I've only been wedding planning for four months but with our short time-span I've had to be speedy off the grid and can happily admit that I've already organised our venue, sent out save the dates, booked our accommodation, sorted our photographer and florist, ordered my wedding dress and booked our honeymoon, so I wanted to share with you first hand my tips and tricks for all you other busy brides-to-be out there!

1. Think about what date/season you choose to get married. 

If you're not too fussy about whether you get married on a Saturday or a Monday, then I'd definitely recommend that you choose a day mid-week to get married. Believe me, it will make a lot of wedding elements so much cheaper! Hotels, photographers, venues, even some suppliers, will all vary their prices depending on what day of the week your getting married/or whether you've chosen summer of winter for example. 

If you're not fussed about having a dream, summer beach wedding or a white, wintery Christmas wedding then I definitely suggest you choose slightly a day slightly out of season that is mid-week (if this suits you of course). From my own personal experience, you'll save yourself a good chunk of money on hotels, venues, and suppliers. 

We are getting married on the 26th of October, which is a Thursday, and from my own personal experience, having already booked my venue, hotel, photography and florist I can tell you that we already saved about 2K on the venue by having mid-week and out of season and received a 20% discount on our photographer as it was a mid-week date. Hotels - as you already know, rates are always cheaper mid-week and availability tend to better. 

Also, if you're getting married somewhere rural that requires overnight accommodation for your guests make sure you assess the accommodation options before putting down a deposit. Take for example us; we are getting married in Chichester, which is very close to Goodwood and we had our heart set on staying in the Goodwood hotel with our guests. 

We didn't expect there to be any issues as we had already cross-checked our dates against local events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed, however, unfortunately, it turns out that the entire hotel has been booked out across several weeks every Thursday and Friday by a business. Luckily, we have a variety of other accommodation options in the local area so have booked into a different hotel but seasonality and local events are definitely something you should bear in mind. 

2. Utilise online resources. 

Bridebook is one of my favourite online wedding planning sites, not only is it full of tips and tricks for preparing for your big day, it also enables you to search across a host of suppliers in your local area online, creates shortlists and of course submit proposals direct to the supplier. 

It also provides you with friendly countdowns and reminders by email on the run up to your big day!

our wedding planner

3. Attend lots of wedding fairs. 

Local wedding fairs are a great way to meet UK wedding suppliers and venues, mingle with other engaged couples and gather ideas for the planning of your perfect wedding day. Also, its a lovely excuse for a day out with your mum! 

Here's a list of all the upcoming wedding fairs, bridal shows and exhibitions across the UK: https://www.weddingfairs.com/

4. Suppliers: Meet up with them in person. 

With some suppliers e.g. a wedding planner, stylist or photographer it's really important to check out your chemistry with the person face-to-face. With other suppliers, a phone consultation or even email correspondence should be enough for you to get an idea of whether you'd like to work with them or not. 

If possible, try to meet up in person or arrange a Skype call depending on locations and availability.

At the end of the day, the likelihood is that you will spend a large part of your day with this supplier and don't need the stress or hassle of having to deal with an argumentative photographer all day who ends up rubbing you and your guests up the wrong way!

wedding planning tips lifestyle post

5. Establish a colour scheme.

What colours do you love? Maybe you have a specific season you want to get married, like Christmas, which will help you to decide on what colours you have.

First things first: location. It might be best to have a colour palette in mind as you embark on your venue search, think about what colours you'd like to use (if you happen to have a preference) and whether you'd want to prioritise finding the perfect venue or having your perfect colour palette.

In my personal experience, I had no idea of any colour schemes before embarking on our venue search and ended up falling utterly in love with the first venue we visited offline. The venue ticked all the boxes and the colour scheme we have chosen has taken shape based on the venue. Because we are getting married in a barn, which is in a rural, countryside location my colour palette is going to feature a mixture of rustic, floral, pastel colours throughout.

copper pin board sainsburys home

6. PIN to your heart's content!

Maybe you have no idea where to start? Pinterest! Seriously, pin to your heart's content. When we first got engaged I spent a lot of time debating where I should start and what exactly what my idea of a "perfect wedding". 

Pinterest was the best place for me to start. I decided to create lots of different boards for various different wedding elements like the venue, wedding flowers, wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, wedding favours, locations, decor inside the venue, props you name it, Pinterest has a bank of images for everything. 

I then started to search out different parts of the wedding and basically pinned anything I liked, I soon gathered an idea for what I really wanted my big day to look like. Naturally, your Pinterest boards will begin to form a theme and you'll start to get a great idea of how you envisage all the different elements piecing together. 

I pin wedding inspiration on the daily, so make sure you check out my Pinterest board for wedding ideas too

wedding planning pin board

7. Bridesmaid Dresses: ASOS, free returns, why not?

I've been browsing ASOS for bridesmaid dress inspiration and I've found so many gorgeous midi and maxi styles that are so affordable!

What's more, ASOS is already my go-to online shop for clothing so I'm confident in the fact I'm already familiar with their sizing and what to expect in terms of shape and quality, plus with the added benefit of free returns I can order a variety of styles and sizes for my bridesmaids to get together and try on.

Check out their range of bridesmaids dresses here. 

save the date wedding invite hobbycraft

8. Create a budget spreadsheet. 

Planning a wedding is super fun, but at the same time, can easily be one of the most expensive periods of your life. Ensuring you have a wedding budget template in place where you can plot all your forecasted wedding expenses will be a great help in getting organised for your big day. 

By having a solid budget at the back of your mind for each wedding cost this will greatly help when you come to shortlisting possible wedding dresses or suppliers for example. 

Do your research and check out different articles online which provide a budget breakdown of what you can expect to pay, on average for your wedding, bearing in mind, wedding costs will differ from person to person. 

Also, Wedding Ideas Magazine offer some free wedding planning budget spreadsheets if you don't fancy creating your own!

book florist wedding planning tips

9. Invest in a credit card!

Chances are you are going to be forking out a fair amount of dollar for your big day. With an average UK wedding forecasted to cost around 20-30K, in my opinion, now is definitely the time to invest into a credit card. Hear me out, I'm not advocating that you go and spend lots of money you don't physically have, but you'll find that a lot of credit card providers offer reward incentives when you use your credit card towards a purchase. 

For example, American Express are known for offering greats deals in terms of travel rewards, e.g. Avios points and air miles with Virgin or British Airways. Alex personally did some research into this and has asked me (where the card is accepted) to charge all wedding expenses straight to our American Express Gold Card

Why you ask? This way we are accumulating lots of points towards free flights in the future. I think we worked out that with all of our budgeted wedding/honeymoon expenditure we would be able to accumulate enough points for free flights to New York for example. Now there's an idea for your honeymoon!

10. Most importantly, enjoy the experience!

Most importantly, don't panic, don't stress and enjoy the whole experience! 

I hope my wedding planning tips helped. If you have any further questions or would like to chat to a like-minded busy bride-to-be just pop me a comment or send me an email :)


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Food & Drink: House Of The Rising Sun Restaurant Review, Shrewsbury

house of the rising sun tapas
cocktails at HOTRS in Shrewsbury
hoisin duck sushi rolls
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pork belly Hirata bun
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Seared teriyaki beef
tempura pork belly tapas food
Tuna with ginger and lime dressing sashimi
exploding chocolate bomb
If you are lucky enough to be extending your visit into the evening and dining in Shrewsbury, it's cobbled streets are packed with quirky corners and lots of places to eat; from cool cafes to one-off delis.

On an evening there's a host of bars and restaurants to choose from, in this particular instance, Original Shrewsbury organised for us to dine at House of The Rising Sun, an enticing fusion restaurant doused in a mix of oceanic blue hues and timeless timber tones which provided a sumptuous and luxurious atmosphere to enjoy a fusion of global dining.

The menu itself offers a tapas-style menu; its modern Australian cuisine combines Pacific Rim flavours, mixed with Indonesian and South East Asian influences. As you can imagine there is lots of choice on offer with "around the world dining" delivered straight to your plate.

HOTRS has a pretty cool ethos that their food has "no constraints and no rules". All of their dishes are produced with influences from across the world with special note to Japan and East Asia. Each dish is produced in-house and the restaurant takes pride in the technique and precision of the food they offer. 

Other than the premium steak selection, all of their dishes are what would commonly be described
as tapas and in themselves do not typically form the main meal. It is recommended that they are to be shared and enjoyed by all the table! It is suggested that each person chooses at least 4 dishes and of course any sides you desire for the table. 

So with that in mind, we carefully chose the following tapas style dishes to share between the two of us;

Hoisin duck, spring onion & cucumber £7.00 sushi rolls
Pork belly with smoked apple ketchup £7.00 tempura
Tuna with ginger and lime dressing £6.50 sashimi
Hirata bun - pork belly - sweet steamed bun, pickled cucumber & sriracha mayonnaise £4.00
Seared teriyaki beef, sesame, spring onion & teriyaki sauce £13.00
Salmon with its own caviar £6.50 Nigiri 
Edamame beans (salty, sticky or spicy) £4.00

A few dishes were already firm favourites, and others, like the sashimi and nigiri I hadn't tried before. The tempura pork belly with smoked apple ketchup with a perfectly light and crispy batter was a favourite dish of mine along with the pork belly Hirata sweet steamed buns, topped with pickled cucumber and sriracha mayonnaise... you can see a 'pork theme' occurring here! 

If you're local or just visiting, I highly recommend you pay House of the Rising Sun a visit - it is ideal for groups of friends who can happily share a selection of delicious tapas dishes, along with a couple of fruity cocktails too! 

For further recommendations on where to visit, stay, eat and drink read about my full press trip with Original Shrewsbury here.

House of the Rising Sun, 18 Butcher Row, SY1 1UW. Tel: 01743 588040

(*) This post was in collaboration with Original Shrewsbury who organised a press trip for me to explore the town. All food and drink at House of the Rising Sun were provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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Lifestyle: Getting Engaged in Italy, Hotel Capo La Gala, Vico Enquense


Surprise Trip to Italy

Back in October for my birthday treat, Alex whisked me away to Italy for a surprise birthday weekendUp until the airport, I had no idea where we were going, only that we needed to be at the airport to catch a flight that Friday afternoon. It was only when we were due to head to our gate that I spotted Naples as our onward destination. The excitement was unreal!

We flew with British Airways and shared lots of excited chatter on the plane. Little did I know that Naples wasn’t to be our final destination. Alex had arranged for us to pick up a hire car upon our arrival to Naples airport so we could drive towards Sorrento. In true Italian style, we hired a Fiat 500 which made the trip all the more magical.

Navigating the roads was initially a little stressful, let's just say the Italian’s drive like madmen and there were a few moments I genuinely feared for my life! The route was pleasant and we even drove past the famous Pompeii on route!

After about an hour, the roads started to narrow and we arrived at the most wonderful boutique 5* hotel; Hotel Capo La Gala, located just outside Vico Equense, a small town about 10 minutes drive from Sorrento. The hotel boasted the most romantic, cliffside location overlooking the fascinating gulf of Naples. 

Italian luxury at its finest, this five-star resort is located in the very heart of the Sorrento Peninsula. Capo La Gala is a renowned boutique design hotel on the water's edge, a jewel rising in the Mediterranean nature of the Sorrento coast; enjoying its very own privileged position to easily reach many of the most evocative corners of the region. Basically, my kind of place!

To keep all surprises under wraps, luckily, Alex had fed me some cover story on the plane. Basically he admitted that he had already been looking at engagement rings, which was an excitement in itself, however, he immediately dismissed the possibility of it happening anytime soon as it would still be at least a couple of weeks until he would be able to order anything in my size. 

Upon hearing this I immediately discarded the idea from my head that this could be the weekend that Alex proposed (well-played Alex, I must say!). Looking back, I'm so glad he said what he said as I truly had no inclination as to what was about to happen. 

Paradise Room

Upon arrival, we were asked to wait within a reception area and offered a glass of bubbly on arrival, nice touch! (little did I know at this point Alex must have been seriously nervous and the staff were all in on the surprise). We were led down some cliffside steps towards an elevator which would take us to our room. 

Now I think about it, the receptionist didn't even stick around to show us the room or explain any finer details, as this was all part of the plan so I could myself, reveal, the luxurious private terrace that stood hidden behind the blue shutters. 

We were staying in the most beautiful room; a "Paradise room" directly overlooking the gulf of Naples. The room was awash with bright white walls and nautical blue and white tones throughout, with scattered shells and seahorse ornaments dotted about the room. 

The most breathtaking part of the room was located behind the blue shutters, which upon first inspection I was convinced must have housed a brick wall or some sort of noisy generator (little did I know - the noise was actually the sound of the outdoor jacuzzi warming up!)

Funnily enough, I really struggled to get the back door open and kept calling Alex's name to help me open it (Again, little did I know, he was hiding in the bathroom frantically trying to get the ring ready in his pocket for "the proposal"). 

Eventually, I managed to poise the shutters open myself, which opened onto the most romantic private terrace with our very own hydro massage pool perched above the cliff edge. 

The view was literally breathtaking, not only because of the twinkling lights from the hotel that lined the cliff, but because there were pink rose petals scattered across the entire terrace and a big bottle of bubbly sat in the middle of the table surrounded by a heart of rose petals. My heart melted! 

Still... I had no idea.

It Happened!

I walked over to the edge of the hydro pool, feeling a little overwhelmed with such a romantic birthday surprise! Next thing I knew, Alex came up behind me, cuddled and held me close as we soaked up the romantic, cliffside setting. 

And I'll never forget those next few words which Alex muttered under his breath... 

"There's something else quite important I need to ask you..."

I spun around on my heel and at that moment, and only in that moment, I knew what was about to happen. 

Alex asked me to marry him in the most beautiful setting. The rest of the evening was just incredible and all a bit of a loved-up blur; we spent the whole night on our private terrace in the outdoor jacuzzi, popping bubbles, toasting glass after glass to seven years of cherished memories so far, chatting, reminiscing, drinking, cuddling, laughing. 

I've never had such a huge smile on my face and that moment couldn't have been more perfect!! 

If you've ever been to Italy you'll know that there is something quite magical and charming about the place. It is very romantic by nature, however, Italy now holds an even more special place in my heart and I'll never forget that weekend. 

An amazing couple of days followed with a day trip to the island of Capri and a road-trip along the Amalfi Coast in our Fiat 500. 

I'll have further posts to come all about our separate adventures in Capri and visiting the Amalfi Coast.

Capo La Gala Hotel and Spa
Via Luigi Serio, 8
80069 Vico Equense, na
Sorrento Coast, Italy
t +39 081 801 5757
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Travel: Ockenden Manor and Spa - Luxury Hygge Escapes in West Sussex

Explore the best of both worlds at Ockenden Manor; with a modern spa attached to a quaint old hotel, complete with spectacular views of the South downs and a stupendous outdoor pool.

The Hotel and Location 

Ockenden Manor is a fine Elizabethan manor house with 28 lavishly decorated rooms, an outstanding spa and a fine-dining restaurant set in eight acres of beautiful grounds overlooking Cuckfield Park.

With its history and character, the elegant sitting room warmed by a roaring log fire and cosy, wood-panelled bar, Ockenden Manor is a wonderful place to escape to and it's less than an hour from London. 

The perfect countryside hygge-escape!

Ockenden Manor and Spa is located in Cuckfield in West Sussex and is part of Historic Sussex Hotels; a collection of three privately owned hotels in Sussex. There is also The Spread Eagle Hotel and Spa in Midhurst and Baliffscourt Hotel and Spa in Climping, West Sussex.

There is a range of accommodation on offer to suit all tastes; from fabulous over-sized contemporary spa suites with roof terraces (located in the spa building) to charming period suites and elegant, individually decorated rooms located within the main manor house. 

One thing I love about living in Sussex is that it is full of historic manors and Georgian houses which have now been converted into luxurious hotels with lavish gardens and grounds.


The contemporary spa poses a startling contrast to the manor with its modern, glass-walled architecture and outdoor box-front structure. 

Inside you'll find an indoor and outdoor pool, outdoor hot tub, and indoor jacuzzi walk through rain showers, steam room, sauna, gym, relaxation area, airy sundeck and a guest lounge and cafe. 

Ockenden Manor's spa is open till 9 pm mid-week and 10 pm on the weekend which is ideal for those who would like to take an evening dip in the outdoor heated pool or the steaming outdoor hot tub jacuzzi. 

The spa is set across a very open space, with lots of floor to ceiling glass windows spanning its entirety and adding to its luxury feel. The mezzanine level has an area with lots of relaxing loungers - with a direct view onto the pool, and outside there are further loungers scattered across a roof-top sitting area which provides views over the South downs. 

With lots on offer - there’s something for everyone. Whether you just fancy a relax in the sauna or steam room, the indoor pool leads out onto an outdoor heated pool. I decided to take a dip in here before dinner, the outdoor pool was the perfect temperature; while freezing outside but delightfully warm under the water's surface. It was nice to feel the crisp, fresh air on my cheeks. 

Little luxurious extras - a quirky ice dispenser to keep you hydrated, complimentary fluffy towels, robes, and slippers galore. 

Can’t afford the full works? 
  • If you’re looking for a girly evening, why not mix things up a bit and book yourself into the spa for an evening spa escape? I can’t imagine anything better than a glass of bubbles in hand whilst soaking up the outdoor jacuzzi. This would be an ideal thing to do on Sunday evening before heading back to work. 

The Spa Suite

As mentioned before, the spa itself is located in a separate building to the main manor house. The spa is still fairly new in structure and poses a stark contrast when compared to the older main manor house. 

The spa has taken the liberty to provide luxury spa seekers with an optional extra during their stay - the option to stay in one of their luxurious spa suites for the night. With six luxuriously spacious bedrooms complete with shutters in the bathroom that open out onto the bedrooms. Each spa suite includes an enclosed roof garden with superb views. 

The spa suite was huge, with plenty of space for two. The bathroom, immediately on the left as you enter contains itself within a separate area complete with rainfall shower, separate enclosed toilet, large bathtub and his and her sinks. The bathroom shutters which open onto the bedroom are a lovely addition. 

The bedroom/living area housed a huge bed, sitting area, Nespresso machine, and outdoor sitting area. The decor was warm with red, green and gold tones and even though very spacious throughout, it still boasted that cosy feel. Wardrobes housed super fluffy dressing gowns and cosy spa slippers - the finishing touches for the ultimate hygge-escape! 

The best part? 
  • The six spa suites have direct access to the spa; with late opening hours, who wouldn't want an evening dip in the outdoor heated pool? Bliss! 


Dinner was again, a luxurious affair, guests have a choice of a fixed price menu or a foodie lovers seven-course tasting menu. We chose the a la carte menu which will set you back £65 pp for 3 courses. 

To start, I had the white onion soup; with a side of trenchmore farm beef bites. The soup was rich, sweet, but light in texture with warming flavours and the beef bites added a crunch and a further touch of french finesse!

For mains, the Tournedos Rossini British beef fillet with truffled savoy cabbage and bacon and crispy potatoes was cooked to perfection and a small pot of rich and tender beef ragu with fresh pasta accompanied. 

To finish; I had the caramelised lemon tart with blackcurrant sorbet. To be honest, this was far too sharp for my palette and believe me, I have a very sweet tooth! The lemon tart was super sharp and I was expecting the sorbet to complement with a balance of light, fruity flavours, however, the blackcurrant was just as sharp, if not more and every mouthful made my face wince! 

Overall we had a wonderful stay and although quite pricey, one day I would love to come back, and treat Alex to an overnight spa stay - the suites are divine! 

Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa
Ockenden Lane
West Sussex
RH17 5LD

To make a reservation, call to book: 01444 416111

(*) Our overnight stay and food and drink at Ockenden Manor and Spa were provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)

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