Why you have to try this peanut brittle | The Australian Sweet Co.

Hey there,

So this week my pals at Australian Sweet Co slipped a morsel of happiness through my letterbox to brighten up my Friday. And by slipped through my letterbox I clearly mean I got a missed delivery card and had to head over to the industrial estate where dreams go to die to pick it up. But yeah.

I’ll be honest. I don’t usually like peanut brittle. Every time I’ve tried it in the past I’ve had to forage about for tools just to break it in half, and then wonder ‘hey, do calories even count when the entire thing is lodged in my molars?’.

But the Salted Caramel Peanut Brittle and the Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle from The Australian Sweet Co was actually delish. It shattered easily so you can, you know, actually chew it, and the hint of salt was delicate and not at all overpowering. It’s quite sweet, but that’s actually pretty good for me because if something can be consumed in one serving, I will consume it in one serving – so having this little slab of joy on hand for an afternoon tea break was ideal.

Thank you Australian Sweet Co! (p.s. they do personalised rock candies too. So if anyones birthday is coming up, you’ve been warned.)

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This product was gifted but all opinions and brittle love my own. 

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My Aussie-versary | One Year in Melbourne

So this week, my Australian life turns one. I’ve survived as an Aussie for one whole year. Yay me! I’ve tolerated temperatures of 46 degrees, cooked on barbecues more than I ever thought possible, developed a weird awkward mini Aussie accent and even eaten wallaby. Oh, and the word heaps is legit part of my daily vocabulary. For this I will be eternally sorry.

So yeah, this time one year ago I touched down in Melbourne with nothing but 27kgs worth of my old life, a working holiday visa and a heart full of hope that I’d done the right thing. If I’m honest, moving to the other side of the world for a BOY wasn’t exactly something I EVER saw myself doing. And by that I mean I was probably more likely to become a Jehovah’s Witness than succumb to that thing people call lurve. 

But somehow, here I am, one year on. And in terms of how the relationship is going, last night I chugged in excess of 6 glasses of champagne at a wedding and sang Horses by Daryl Braithwaite at the top of my lungs with my boyfriend’s entire family into my Snapchat camera, before preceding to adopt a ‘no sitting’ policy and physically DRAG said boyfriend’s dad and sister onto the dance floor because an Australian song I’d never heard had come on and I wanted moral support. So yeah, I think it’s going pretty well.

In all seriousness, yes, I completely did the right thing. Do I miss home? Of course. Did I cry when the song ‘Home’ by Michael Buble was played at the aforementioned wedding? PERHAPS. (No, you’re pathetic.) Do I have weird emotional days near-ish to my period when I get all freaked out at the future and picture us getting deported from every country and wind up living in a tipi in Utah on a ranch with nothing but tumbleweed to amuse us? Sometimes. But really, none of that matters because I know it’ll work out somehow, and even if we do end up in Utah, we’ll totally get an online Kmart order delivered and make it homely with some Pinterest-worthy photo frames and maybe a marble soap dispenser or twelve.

In no way is this meant to come across totally narcissistic, but if you’re ever found asking yourself, ‘do long distance relationships work’?, take a step back. Long distance relationships have such a bad rep, and I really don’t get why. For one, it’s totally outdated. Okay yes, if this was the 1920s and I had had to spend 2014 waiting for a telegram to clarify whether Jess was dead, alive or sleeping with a ho-bag from Uni, yes that would’ve been hard. But nobody has taken the chance to factor in Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Viber and the retained eternal magic of snail mail (hand sent Valentines cards are the best Valentines cards. Just sayin’).

If you really, really want something to work, it can. Sure, you have to live in this weird limbo life that’s just one amalgamation of the loneliness of being single without actually any of the fun parts, with a bit of tiredness from late night phone calls across time zones and a big phone bill thrown in for lols. Oh, and you’ll spend a fortune on postage. Did somebody say £55 to send some Christmas pressies? Oh yeah, those hot figures were part of a sweet December serenade I received from Royal Mail. Thanks for nada!

If you’re willing to commit 100%, your long distance relationship CAN work. And it can even be better than any other relationship you’ve ever been in. That’s right kids, you too could see the look on your friends and relatives faces when you tell them you’re dropping everything to move 11,000 miles for a boy (banter) and YOU TOO could spend $7000 on a visa just to be together. Oh it’s such a magical ride. Soz.

FYI, right before you plonk the $7000 on your MasterCard, it is also 100% okay to flick through all the hot clothes you could buy instead in your head, and all the hot islands you could prance around on, and consider sacking the whole lot in for about a nanosecond (sorry, Jess love you).

But the best feeling, really, is knowing you wouldn’t take any of that. The reality is, that person marks a start in your life, rendering everything prior a distant memory.

Sure, you might have to drop everything and move thousands of miles, you might put flight after flight on your credit card, you might spend money that was earmarked for a house deposit on trips just to be together.

Would I want it any other way? Of course not.

Never ditch someone or something because it seems too hard, or because someone somewhere once told you that they knew someone who knew someone who’s long distance relationship went down the shitter. For every LDR down the pan, there’s a thousand ‘normal’ relationships down there, too. Don’t blame distance for a decision you’ve made yourself, and don’t make distance question anything.

Get yourself a hot chocolate, watch Going The Distance with Drew Barrymore and everyones favourite weirdly-ugly-yet-somehow-still-hot dork, Justin Long, and repeat after me. Fuck. The. Miles.

I’m off to eat vegemite, watch Seinfeld and practice verse two of Advance Australia Fare and pray The Queen and the corgis can one day forgive me.

Toodles xxx

 

The Juan and Only Mexican for Me

Okay so let’s get this straight. I effin’ love Mexican food. Partly because it’s all carbs and cheese and spices and more cheese and allll the avo and sour cream I could dream of, and partly because of the plethora of puns that come hand in hand with Mexican chat.

So today I’m gonna taco ’bout some rad Mexican food I scoffed last week. See what I did there? Dw, I’ll stop now.

So last week Jess and I went to the Gold Coast, and somewhere between acting out all the scenes from the Inbetweener’s movie we managed to squeeze in a dinner at Beach Burrito Co. in Coolangatta.

Coolangatta by the way is well worth a visit. When people think of Gold Coast they think of Surfer’s Paradise. Take it from me. It ain’t paradise. Paradise to any self respecting female is chilling on a hammock in Bora Bora while staff fan you with palm tree leaves while sipping mojitos. Surfer’s Paradise is basically the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to Magaluf. Coolangatta is way more up my rapidly aging twenty-something’s alley. Plenty of pensioners, not a nightclub in sight, and a dessert bar IN THE APARTMENT BUILDING. Yup, Max Brenner. You dawg.

Anyway Beach Burrito. With an insane view of the clear blue ocean, the European style white decking and Corona laden interior, it was the ideal place to refuel after a mental day basically having Wet ‘n’ Wild to ourselves (and me nearly peeing my pants after having to be launched backwards down a vertical drop in a shared dinghy with Jess on one of the slides).

Jess had bribed me with the Mexican feast to get me on every ride he could at Wet ‘n’ Wild to relive his childhood (while I almost burst a tonsil screaming at every twist and turn), so I’d already earmarked the chorizo and halloumi plate for starter.

Beach Burrito Co Chorizo and Halloumi Plate
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While not what I expected, it was delicious. It was sort of like an open wrap. I even ate some of the corn which was inconveniently hidden in every crevice of the halloumi goodness – and for those who know how much I hate corn, this is a milestone. FYI I really hate corn. The cheese was as springy and salty and omg so good – as I’d want halloumi to be, so I was happy.

For main we had burritos. Big, foil wrapped, juicy, can’t fit my chops round it burritos. There are few words. I couldn’t get a decent Instagram worthy snap of it unfortunately, though if I’m honest I only gave it a few trys before I sunk my orthodontically offensive gnashers into the mighty diameter of my Tofu and Bean babe. I had tofu because I’ve sort of given up some meat because I don’t really know why but yeah. Lol yes I know, I had chorizo for starter, but whether or not meat causes cancer, soz life but chorizo is where I draw the line.

I washed this down with a larger, cos, ya know, when in Rome and all that. Aside from the burps that followed my lad style pint was a delight (might I add, Jess had a lemonade, so I did fully embrace the butch beer drinker image). I woulda had a Corona but frankly I find it weird when I sip it and the lemon touches my lip so yeah, went for the Cooly beer on tap (Cooly being the irritating abbreviation of Coolangatta).

All in all, a top place for a Mexican chow down. The tacos looked incred as well and I kinda wish I’d had a few of those instead as they were little tapas-y ones, but… next time! The nachos and loaded fries were all too tempting, but they’ll need to go on the wishlist, too. Even my appetite couldn’t stretch *crys*. I hear there’s one in Fitzroy so yeah, you’ll find me there (this time, taking better pictures!).

Beach Burrito Company
Image via http://www.beachburritocompany.com

Adios amigos

Coco x

58 Thoughts I Had While at Meditation Class

So recently I went to a four-part meditation course with a friend. We both suffer from a bit of anxiety and stress so thought it might be a way to release the fears. Thing is, I’m in no way ‘woo-woo’. Or particularly capable of being something I’m not. What I learned on my Introduction to Meditation is that I don’t wish to read chapter two. I’m a runner. I relax by going for a run. That clears my mind. Sitting does not. I appreciate meditation is a great release for some people. The analogy of the water and soil in a glass, I get that (basically the soil cant settle until the water is completely still). But maybe I like a bit of soil in my life. Perhaps that’s what keeps me on my toes, maybe that’s how I thrive. I have always worked quite well under pressure. Basically, stillness is not for me. I like to move. I like to shake out the dirt, rather than let it settle. If you’re in any way like me – that is, somewhat uptight (though I like to call it energetic and passionate) – you might relate to some of these thoughts I had while meditating. And by meditating I mean being my usual cynical self while sat in a Buddah-like stature.

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  1. This is going to be awesome. Maybe I’ll stop being a stressed, uptight bitch all the time.
  2. Maybe I’ll be able to get a headache without assuming it’s a brain tumour. Or have an itchy finger without Googling ‘finger cancer’.
  3. Wow. I just paid $20 to sit.
  4. We’re all sitting cross legged on carpet. This feels like school.
  5. Ah school.
  6. Seriously, remember school. I feel like a huge giant overhead projector needs to be wheeled in.
  7. Wow I totally zoned out then. Am I nailing this meditation thing?
  8. “Don’t let your mind wander”. Oh shit. I’m not
  9. Wow, I don’t think I’m thinking about anything. Oh wait. I’m thinking about that.
  10. “Let your attention fall towards your jaw. Your ears. Your forehead.” Can anyone feel their forehead?
  11. God I feel like I’m swaying.
  12. I wonder if he’s looking at me swaying.
  13. Ok I’m actually not swaying.
  14. Maybe this is meditating?
  15. Nah don’t think so.
  16. “Walk yourself back through everything you did today”. Seriously? I can’t remember what happened ten minutes ago let alone the entire day backwards.
  17. WHAT DID I DO AT WORK TODAY.
  18. WHAT THE HELL DID I HAVE FOR LUNCH.
  19. Oh yeah salad. Fucking salad. Why am I reliving this again?
  20. God my posture is shit.
  21. I think I can hear someone hoovering.
  22. Gosh I must hoover the apartment.
  23. Focus.
  24. Well, focus on not focusing.
  25. Ommmmmmmmmm.
  26. God I need to sneeze.
  27. *sneeze*. This instructor now thinks I am an idiot. Zen people don’t sneeze.
  28. My nose has never been more itchy in my life.
  29. I wonder how long we’ve been sitting here.
  30. My leg is numb.
  31. Yep, and my foot.
  32. Yay pins and needles.
  33. I wonder if I’m meditating yet.
  34. “So you should now be reaching mid-morning in your journey back through the day”. Oh, really? Everyone else’s day was clearly more eventful than mine then. Reliving sitting in my desk chair chomping on a lettuce leaf didn’t take me long.
  35. “Think about how to be relaxed instead of stressed. For example, when you lose your keys. Just calmly walk your mind back through the day to when you last had them.” Seriously? If I can’t find my keys and Nando’s is about to close I’m gonna tear the house apart like a crazy ass freak of nature until I find them, okay?
  36. I’m definitely too uptight for this.
  37. I think I’m falling asleep.
  38. Wow I’ve never felt my vertebral discs before. But there they are. Individually burning one at a time.
  39. I’m definitely slouching.
  40. I’d do anything to open my eyes right now.
  41. Shit I’m meant to be meditating.
  42. Why am I out of breath?
  43. Oh my god we’re chanting. I’ll just mime along.
  44. How does everyone else know the chant and I don’t?
  45. This is nothing like Les Mills Body Balance.
  46. Please stop talking about my past life.
  47. “Just 2 more minutes”. FUCK YEAH nailed it.
  48. Though all I’ve done is think.
  49. Idiot.
  50. I’m hungry. I wonder if everyone can hear my stomach rumbling.
  51. WHY DO I SWALLOW SO LOUDLY? Nobody else is swallowing.
  52. He’s going to know I’m not in a state of zen.
  53. Why can’t I do this shit lying down.
  54. My bum is more numb than after a RyanAir flight.
  55. God this is a long two minutes.
  56. “Okay, open your eyes slowly”. How do you feel?”
  57. The same. Just with pins in needles in limbs I didn’t know could get pins and needles.
  58. I’m definitely not zen enough for meditation. I’ll just stick to swearing and crying every now and again.

 

Anyone else felt like this?! Tell me I’m not alone, would ya?! Until then, I’ll be, most likely, in a frenzy somewhere – though I truly believe that frenzy will set me on the path to the greatness to follow. It’s called being driven.

Over and out,

Coco x

The stages of jet lag: a dazed and confused guide to the weirdest week of your life

Having racked up almost 100,000 miles in air travel over the past two years, I’ve become no stranger to a little jet lag. I thought I had experienced the full throttle after flying back from New York and landing at what felt like 11pm, when it was actually only lunchtime. I foolishly took a nap that afternoon and my body clock was off for about 2 days. Unfortunately, I was naive enough to believe that would have in some way prepared me for what was to come. But sadly not. It hits you in the face the second you step off the plane at your destination, and leaves you waking at varying times of the night wondering where and who you are. For all you know, you could be Michael Jackson’s ghost (which wouldn’t be completely impossible given that I have many a time crashed around the bedroom in the dark trying to get my bearings in a Thriller like fashion).

Anyway, like pretty much everything else, I figured there was probably a funny side to this madness, so I attempted to translate that exact feeling into a progrressional timeline of jet lag, so that, maybe – just maybe, I can help at least one of you realise that making any elaborate plans for the immediate few days following your arrival is a sincere mistake.

Walk the walk. You’re fresh off the plane, you’ve slept, you’ve even mopped your poor economy class brow on a hot cloth handed to you by an air stewardess with bizzare tongs that you assume were manufactured solely for that moment in life, and you think you can nail this. It’s midday local time, and you’re totally ready to chug a skinny capp and stay up until an appropriate bedtime.

 

The slump.

 

The coffee starts to wear off and your body starts preparing for bedtime. Glancing at the clock, you see it strike 5pm and it dawns on you that you’ve got another 5 hours to get through.

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People are talking but you’re completely zoned out. Smile and nod, smile and nod.

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IT’S BED TIME. HURRAHHHHHHH.

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You wake from the deepest sleep, your mouth drier than a quinoa cracker.

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It must be morning, wow, I’ve slept through! NOPE, 3am.

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Time ticks on.

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Morning comes. You rise, despite it feeling like the middle of the afternoon given that you started your day 6 hours ago – yet did nothing but lay in bed angry. You try to eat – as they say, eating breakfast helps set your body clock. Before long, you face plant your toast.

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All around you is reassurance. Stories of those who have battled through. How you’ll “be back to normal in a few days”. You look on in disbelief.

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Hours of confusion, a touch of anger and a dash of hallucination later, you decide you can take on the world, and you power through. When you eventually adjust, you half expect a monument to have been erected in your honour, and perhaps a letter from the Queen, but take it from me; HRH must be a little busy tending to the corgis to have mailed my letter, but, you know, I never give up hope.

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For those of you who have read  this thinking, ‘what’s this girl on about? Jet lag isn’t that bad’, count yourselves lucky. Apparently you’re meant to get used to the effects of changing time zones, but 100,000 miles later, I’m yet to see any progression!

 

 

 

43 things that happened to me in 2015

Wow, what a crazy year. I thought no year would fly by as fast as 2014, but hey there 2015, you’ve gone and trumped it. It’s been a great year for me – here’s some things that happened on the ride:

  1. I finally realised I’m too old to remain in love with One Direction. Zayn’s departure didn’t break my heart the way it should have done, and I came to the sad conclusion that I could’t really give two shits about them anymore.
  2. I accepted that a bowl of bran flakes and four Ryvita crackers is not sufficient nutrition for the day.
  3. I realised how much I truly hate winter. I used to sort of love the cosiness of it all – the jumpers, hot chocolates, fluffy socks and layered clothing. But at some point around July in Melbourne, rain-sodden and snivelling, I announced I could not go on. My search for eternal sunshine began in Northern Queensland, where I had two tantrums and shouted at my boyfriend declaring that the cloud that had appeared on our second day was his fault. Obviously.
  4. I ate wallaby… and enjoyed it.
  5. I gave up red meat (a very recent development – for those of you who are questioning whether or not you did in fact see me chug a burger two months ago).
  6. I stopped lying to myself about enjoying clubs less than I used to. I started to realise I was getting too old for it when I stopped recognising the music, and I’m now 100% certain that I am over the hill.
  7. I made my peace with Aussie television.
  8. I learned the truth about Australian winter. No. It absolutely is NOT like our summer.
  9. I learned to drive an automatic car without flapping my left foot about in search of a clutch.
  10. I learned that sucking tea through a Tim Tam has to be done incredibly quickly before it all goes soggy and plummets to the ibis that is the bottom of your teacup.
  11. Apparently having a headache doesn’t always mean you have a brain tumour.
  12. I become a professional writer after years of writing content for free (yay me).
  13. I allowed my boyfriend to see me removing my upper lip hair.
  14. I discovered I am truly dreadful at market research interviewing.
  15. I survived an 8 hour drive to Adelaide (and back) without a freak out (bar one tiny blip on the final 3 hour stint of the return journey when we were further from McDonalds than we thought).
  16. I realised I don’t actually like Victoria’s Secret stuff that much.
  17. I sent so much stuff home from Melbourne over the year that the man in the Post Office said “to England?” every time I went in with a parcel.
  18. I realised I need to know more about politics.
  19. I discovered the true need to wear socks with my running shoes.
  20. I found a hairdresser that actually cuts off the amount you want, and doesn’t ask me how I blow dry my hair when she knows the answer is I DON’T.
  21. I found that when you exercise a lot, your hair and beauty game takes a serious hit.
  22. It seems that 5k in a beachfront race feels a lot further than 5k on the treadmill.
  23. It turns out I don’t like chia seeds. Or cacao powder.
  24. But against all odds I do like courgetti and natural peanut butter.
  25. I finally found the perfect eyeliner brush.
  26. I started saying no to cream on my Starbucks Christmas drinks for the first time EVER.
  27. I learned both verses of the Australian National Anthem.
  28. And upped my level of defence and respect for The Queen.
  29. I discovered that working from home is not always the dream your 9-5 office job leads you to believe it to be.
  30. I realised I’m over Lucy Watson.
  31. But made my boyfriend follow her on Instagram.
  32. Despite having fallen somewhat in love with mine and boyfriend’s long distance, novel-worthy existence, seeing some couples popping round to each other’s houses for the evening and having mutual family gatherings made me realise I do sometimes wish it was normal.
  33. I found that I will forever compare every mode of transport to The Tube.
  34. Taylor Swift got too cool for me. Bring back the country pop, gal.
  35. I heard the phrase ON FLEEK and quickly developed a seething hatred for its entire being.
  36. When I was new in Melbourne I made conversation with someone by telling them I thought I was allergic to my toothpaste.
  37. I learned never to make conversation by telling someone you think you’re allergic to your toothpaste.
  38. I cried at The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
  39. I also cried at Masterchef Australia.
  40. I realised how sad I am that the early-twenties stage of my life where you live with girlfriends is over.
  41. I realised that Corgis are my spirit animal. And that I must have one.
  42. I went to JB HIFI and Harvey Norman in excess of one hundred times with my boyfriend while he stared at the same TV for hours on end. That’s love.
  43. I discovered the reason I am so unhappy after going to Pancake Parlour is because I don’t actually like pancakes that much.

2015, you were pretty rad. Bring on 2016.

Coco xx

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Safe Journey Home

“Next waiting”.

I scuttled up to the border control desk, patted my passport and boarding pass down on the desk and looked up. “How was your time in Australia, darl?” uttered the Aussie-as-they-come teller. “Great, thanks” I replied, choking slightly on my words; the goodbye behind the departure doors still freshly forming that wrenching lump in my throat that I knew all too well. Bleary eyed and puffy as a Pokemon, I looked up and caught Aussie-as-they-come teller’s eye. “Safe journey home, miss”, he muttered, donning a slightly crooked grin on his face that sort of said ‘enjoy the 24 hour flight to freezing winter’.

Home. Safe journey home. As I picked up my maroon passport with those lions so dear to my heart plastered across the cover, I retreated. Home? What a fool that man was. I live here now. And then I realised. No I don’t. There it was staring me in the face. I’m leaving my ‘home’, to go ‘home’ (the somewhat obnoxious inverted commas being the operative and soul defining punctuation in that sentence). Here I was patting myself on the back for making a life for myself on the other side of the world, feeling excitement – albeit sewn with sorrow – to be heading back to the UK for Christmas. I’ve got two homes now – the words I’d been foolishly serenading my days with. It wasn’t until Aussie-as-they-come teller wished me a safe journey home, that I felt like I’d stripped myself of a home. Suddenly neither place felt like the ‘h’ word, and it made me wonder – what makes a place a home?

With the woman to whom I owe my entire existence, my Mum, on one side of the world, and the person I love on the other, I found myself literally torn between two places. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hardly the first time I’ve felt torn. This was inevitable, and a somewhat familiar feeling – but never before like this. My solid allegiance to my home country of England had always reigned strong in these situations. Sure, Melbourne was fine, but it’s not home. But when you’ve been in a place with a person you love for so many months, you create a routine, a day-to-day existence, and a soft spot for the things that make it what it is. Every step closer to comfort in that place, takes away from the comfort of the old place. And so I’m asking, can you call two places home, or does every extra ounce of love for one unstitch a part of your love for the other? You feel like you’re cheating on one of the places by missing the other, yet we can’t go about our lives longing for another place, either. How do we juggle a love of two homes? Is it two homes, or are we actually a wanderer, seeking validation and confirmation of one decision?

A sombre thought to ponder, fellow nomads. I apologise. Upbeat and humorous sequel to this post to follow. Promise. Spoiler alert – I’m going to review an American reality show that I found called Dating Naked. (Don’t panic. It’s clean.)

Love always,

Coco xx

homessign

Hubba Hubba – A Review of HUB by Premier Inn

Oh hi there. Happy New Year and all that. I hope you all had a good one. I certainly did…I managed to score it off work on account of boyfriend flying in for the occasion, so that was a treat. We spent it in London, which was more hassle than it sounds on paper. If you’ve ever tried to find somewhere to stay on New Years Eve in a major city without it costing the earth, you’ll understand the struggle. Every one of our go-to hotels had hiked their prices up to about four times the usual rate, but rightly so if you ask me – it is the biggest night of the year, why the hell wouldn’t they. Just as we were about to succumb to paying the extortionate rates, I took a punt at checking the Premier Inn website. I don’t often bother anymore for London hotel searches, because, and I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, Premier Inn got premier prices! Often we’re managed to bag a night in a 5 star Tower Bridge spot for almost the same price as a PI, with rates often exceeding £150 per night even on weeknights. Anyway, I came across the new HUB hotel, which is a new brand under the Premier Inn umbrella. I had briefly heard about the concept a while back, but wasn’t aware it was already underway. The idea is basically smart techno compact hotels in key cities, which don’t claim to boast ample space or leisure facilities, but do offer savvy space saving rooms for both business and pleasure travellers. This was priced at £140 per night for Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st December (so right over NYE). In comparison to other offerings, nothing else at this price was anywhere near as central.

We read some reviews before we left, and were a little concerned about the space, noise complaints, and the apparent glitches with the completely new and innovative app controlled in-room features, but having been ourselves, I really felt I needed to write this review as people are clearly unrealistic in their expectations of this hotel concept, and are not seeing it for what it is. UTTERLY FANTASTIC. The existing reviews do not do it justice at all, so give this a read before you snub the Hub!

It opened late in 2014, and is snuggled in between Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, on St Martin’s Lane. The location is undoubtedly faultless. One step outside and you’re in the middle of theatreland, a few minutes walk from any tube line or us route you want, more restaurants and bars than I can count, and loads of tourist spots (Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, The Strand, Covent Garden, Oxford Street….to name but a few!).

Upon check in, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, and I proceeded to one of the check in points. I stood there for a second glaring at it questioning how, at 23, the technological era seems to have swallowed me up and spat me out, and it began to dawn on me that a five year old in this day and age could probably decode this robot better than I could. Luckily, the aforementioned receptionist trotted over and began to translate. She instructed me to open my Hub by Premier Inn app on my iPhone and bring up my booking and the QR code that came with it (that’s those funny splodges that look like space invaders that somehow contain data). I scanned it and my booking appeared on the screen. I filled in the necessary details, and chose whether or not we wanted any breakfast delivered during our stay. I declined, but don’t worry, you can order it at a later time using your app! You then pick up a room card from the stack on the machine, swipe it, and tah-dah, you’re checked in! Despite being filled with glee at my exceptional check in experience, I proceeded to our room with a slight apprehension at what would await. Half of me was expecting a pokey dormitory fit for an army of mice, but I remained positive. The corridors were wide, everything was sparklingly new and sleek.

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We had been given an accessible room, as that was all that was available at the time of booking, so I had hoped our “mouse dorm” might have a bit more space. WELL. A bit more space you ask? It. Was. Huge. Room 501 greeted me with a large wet room bathroom, ample floor space, a large double bed, plenty of storage for suitcases, and a million well-placed plug sockets (which is a real game changer for me in hotel rooms). Previous reviews complained that there was no tea and coffee making facilities, which, no, there wasn’t, but a complimentary lounge on the ground floor serves hot drinks free of change 24 hours a day, which is really better than a few tea bags and long life milk on a tray, isn’t it?!

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One of the coolest features of the HUB, is the use of the app to control in-room features like temperature and lighting. Don’t panic, if you’re still in a happy relationship with your Nokia 3310, you can still stay here. Please please ignore all the reviews that are marinated in a snide “you’ve got to have a smartphone” tone, because you don’t. There’s a modern panel above your head in bed with touch buttons, which contrary to some reviews, you absolutely DO NOT accidentally lean on with your pillows, unless you insist on sleeping on a 10 foot pile of cushions. The air con was brilliant to cool the room down, and the second it got to chilly, turning the temperature back up quickly adjusted the room a warmer setting. It really bothers me when hotel rooms are too hot or too cold, so it was really nice to be able to adjust it yourself. Noise was not a problem at all. We expected a certain level of noise with it being New Years Eve, and expected other couples like us to be coming in quite late, but we didn’t hear a peep out of anyone, despite the hotel being full.

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I would say the only downside is that their isn’t a phone to contact reception. Our smart TV was playing up, but I called the main hotel number from my phone and they sent someone right away to fix it. The staff were pleasant, check in and out was super easy, the rooms were a fine size and extremely well equipped, and the location was faultless. Overall a fantastic stay, not to mention the crash course in 21st century technology that comes with operating the intelligently stylish features.

If you’re looking for a plush, boutique hotel stay with ample leisure facilities and room service, then no, this isn’t for you, and I won’t pretend it is. But a high number of visitors to London are simply looking for a reliable, comfortable crash pad, close to everything they want to see and do, without it costing the earth. This is certainly that. Overall, a fantastic addition to the Premier Inn group. I can’t wait to try more locations!

Click here to see the Hub by Premier Inn website and book your London stay now!

Home on the Grange – The Grange Hotel Review

Heyyyyy…Today I bring you a hotel review I’ve been meaning to do forever! I love visiting hotels in London, (even if it’s not to stay in, just for a nose around!), and this one was one of my favourites, so much so that we extended our one night stay to two nights, completely on a whim!

The bf and I visited the 5* Grange Hotel Tower Bridge in London on Valentines Day after getting such a good promotional rate, and we couldn’t have asked for more. The room came complete with robes and slippers, a super comfy bed (and it was huge), a plush bathroom, and a well stocked mini bar! We took a little video of our room here!

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We took advantage of the spa facilities, which included a large pool with surrounding lounge beds, foot baths, a sauna and steam room, and a large jacuzzi. Being Valentines Day it was quite busy, but definitely not as bad as we were expecting!

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We ordered room service during the night, to fully exploit the 24 hour service, and the food was amazing! We ordered a bread selection, which came warm and fresh with a selection of butters, a burger and fries (delicious!), and at some point during the stay, my boyfriend ordered himself a club sandwich, which I’m told was delightful, I just wasn’t there to taste it! (I was still en route from work at this point! Talk about liberties!). Condiments were served in those tiny individual jars by Heinz and Helmans, which basically sells any hotel to me – I’m absolutely obsessed with minis! Oh, we also ordered some cheeky nachos at some ungodly hour! (Yeah, we like food okay!)

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 We had breakfast included, and it was definitely worth it! If you don’t have it included in your rate, I would most certainly recommend you add it on. I always say breakfast is a real deal breaker in hotels, and can really draw the line between star ratings. Particularly for a London hotel breakfast, this one was excellent. A wide range of hot and cold options, including cereals, fruit, an extensive pastry range (which I fuelled up on and dipped in the individual nutella portions, inviting severe judgemental looks from the couple next to us!), and best of all, HASH BROWNS. Sorry, but anywhere serving hash browns, particularly on a buffet so I can devour them until I’m neck deep, really gets an instant thumbs up from me! But seriously, hash browns aside, the offering really was great. When there’s brie available for consumption before 11am, who can complain!

The location is really good too. Just a few minutes walk and you’re at Tower Bridge – great photo opportunity. I really love going to touristy spots in London, even though I live here. Its one of those things you always say you’ll do, but things always get in the way, and when its right on your doorstep, you take it for granted. But the Grange Hotel Tower Bridge is positioned in the perfect spot to soak up the amazing city that London really is. There’s truly no place like it. From the hotel you can take easy transport links via the District Line, or various bus routes to get to anywhere you want to go. You can walk to The Shard and London Dungeons, explore the area around London Bridge (lots of good places to eat), and most importantly, shop! There is no better place to collapse after a marathon round Selfridges than the Grange Hotel beds!!! Perfect squish to firmness ratio in my opinion!

The Grange group actually has 16 hotels in London, all four and five star, and all in amazing locations to see the best of London – St Pauls, City, Holborn (great access to Oxford Street, and the Ajala Spa here looks amazing!), Fitzrovia, and tons more. I am desperate to visit the St Paul’s hotel. It looks amazing! There’s a Sky Bar which I think can only be hired for meetings and events *CRYS*, but I’m dying to get up there and see it! The bf is flying back from Aus in July (incase I hadn’t already mentioned 200000 times – sorry!), so we’ll hopefully take a visit there, maybe to celebrate my imminent pensioner status (yes, I’m TWENTY THREE on Monday). I’m keen to see Holborn too. Reviews will definitely follow! (Just not three months later this time, and with much better photos!)

So. Yeah. If you’re looking to visit the divine city of London, or you live here and fancy a night of luxury, Grange Hotels definitely get the Coco seal of approval! Follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@grangehotels) too! They post great updates and photos!

Night all

Coco xx

 

All I Know Since Yesterday, is, Everything Has Changed

Okay, so I have returned to my blog after months on end, and, yes, I know I say this every time I return, but I am actually back this time! The oddest part of my return is actually reading my last post back to myself, which I posted two days after we all clinked our glasses to ring in the New Year and say a big hello to 2014. In said post, I declared to change absolutely nothing about my life, make no resolutions, plans or promises, and to try and keep everything exactly the same. Well. Pretty much the second I posted that blog entry, the universe must have laughed, because suddenly everything changed!

I got into a long distance relationship, and by long distance, mean LONG distance. 11,000 miles to be exact. Yes, you guessed it. Australia. Not only Australia, bloody Melbourne. So basically the furthest away he could possibly be! I know what you’re thinking, and yes it sounds ridiculous, but I can tell you that the stigma surrounding long distance is certainly outdated. How much time do we actually find in our busy lives to sit down and talk face to face with our friends and family that live minutes away from us? Hardly any. They’re always there, and life gets busy. But how long do I spend talking to my boyfriend face to face, all be it on Skype? About 15 hours a week. Its actually surprisingly fabulous. Anyway, this crazy roller coaster, while expensive, has allowed me to spend 3 weeks in Australia, and it was the absolute trip of a lifetime. Yes I’ve come back hideously poor and struggling to make rent, but I don’t even care!

We roadtripped the Great Ocean Road, spent 4 nights in Lorne (the most adorable beachside haven), 2 nights in Sorrento, went to watch the tiny penguins at Phillip Island, explored Melbourne, and visited Sydney. If you’ve never been, its something you really really must do. Here are some snaps!

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Love always

Coco