ROSEMARY & SEA SALT FOCACCIA WITH CARAMELISED ONION CHUTNEY

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that home baking has become the new cool thing to do during lockdown, with everyone trying their hand at producing home made delicious treats to stuff our idle faces with to our hearts content, if only to pass the time away; Myself included.

So much so that in the first two weeks of lockdown I had whipped up no less than about six different kinds of breads/cakes/bakes – anything that I could shovel in to my increasingly large belly, or punt off on to Grant as a ‘treat for work’ to make sure that if I was going to get good and plump, I wasn’t going to do it alone.

Baking has become like sickly sweet crack to the masses, we all can’t get enough of this wholesome and gratifying activity – if you can actually find any flour that is, right now there’s more chance of spotting a fucking yeti taking a stroll through the park to get his daily exercise.

Since showing off a few successful recipe attempts on Instagram (because if it didn’t make the grid, did I even really bake it..?), some of you have asked me to share my baking ‘expertise’, and even though I’ve ripped most of them straight from Google, I figured why not. I’ll indulge my smug Delia Smith charade and dish out my recipes like hot cakes. Or bread. Whatever.

While I am far from achieving master baker status (ahem…), I like to think that I know a fair bit about food, stemming from ingesting impressive, if not alarming amounts of the stuff like a pro for many years now, so I suppose it makes sense to take a step from my usual role of reviewing culinary offerings in to proving that I can actually produce something not entirely crap myself.

So here it is, my first recipe blog, for anyone who cares. Starting with a pairing that is delicious, savoury and simple, and one that you’ll find yourself returning to for ‘just one more snack!’ all day long.

NB. I take absolutely no responsibility for the amount of calories that may be ingested subsequent to recreating these recipes. I’ve enough to worry about with the state of my own currently gargantuan arse at the moment, let alone anyone else’s.

ROSEMARY AND SEA SALT FOCCACIA

Preparation time – about 30 minutes if you’re as slow as shit like me.

Cooking time – 1 to 2 hours (plenty of time to have a snack while you wait for it to prove and cook).

Serves – I’ll leave that up to you. There will be no judgement here.

homemade sea salt and rosemary focaccia bread

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bread flour, aka gold dust, plus extra for dusting. Or gold dusting. (I’ll get my coat…)
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 1 sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 80ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (got to get those calories in)
  • 150-250ml of warm water
  • vegetable oil or oil spray, for oiling
  • fresh rosemary
  • sea salt

Method

  1. Dust a large flat baking tray with flour.
  2. Chuck the flour into a big old bowl, add the salt and yeast, then add the olive oil, plus enough warm water to make a soft but not sticky dough. If it’s sticking to your hands like treacle then you’re doing it wrong. Go easy on the water, adding a bit at a time. If you pour it in faster than the first post lockdown pint down your gullet, it may appear to be fucked, but you can fix this. Gently kneading by way of scooping up the dough, scraping any sticky bits on the surface and slapping it back down again for a few minutes will see the dough begin to become ‘pillowy’ and more manageable. The more water that can be added (the full 250ml is great) then the lighter the bread will be. But it can take some perseverance. Also resist the temptation to add more flour as it will make the dough too heavy.
  3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until your puny weak arms feel like they’re going to fall off, on a lightly floured work surface. The dough will feel stretchy when pulled. To test if it is ready, make a ball with the dough then, using a well-floured finger, (pardon me vicar…) give it a good poke (no more than a ¼in). If the indent disappears by way of the dough springing back then it is ready to shape. If the indent stays, knead for a few minutes longer.
  4. Shape the dough into an oval and place it on the prepared baking tray. Flatten it out to about 30cm long and 20cm wide. Cover the dough loosely with oiled clingfilm, making sure it is airtight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
  6. Leave the dough in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has almost doubled in size. Then flour up that index finger again and poke holes in the dough at regular intervals, about 4cm apart, in rows across the dough, pressing right down to the bottom. Shove some sprigs of the rosemary into the holes. Sprinkle some sea salt over the dough and bung in the top of the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bread is well risen, pale golden-brown and looks tasty as hell.
  7. Remove from the oven, drizzle with the remaining olive oil in a wanky/artistic manner and leave to cool on the baking tray. (DON’T SHOVE IT IN TO YOUR GOB RIGHT AWAY OR YOU’LL BURN YOUR FUCKING MOUTH OFF YOU GREEDY PIGGY).

*Adapted recipe, originally from BBC Good Food.

CARAMELISED ONION CHUTNEY

Preparation time – 5 minutes

Cooking time – 1 hour 30 (ish)

Serves – who the hell cares, it’s chutney FFS. This made a jars worth for me.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp chilli & garlic oil (or olive oil, or butter – whatever you have to be honest).
  • 3 big fat onions, thinly sliced ( I used white, red would work too)
  • 150g brown sugar – or muscovado if you want to be a prick about it.
  • 50 grams granulated sugar
  • salt
  • 150mls white wine vinegar (would probably be better with red but white was all I had so fuck it)
  • A fat glug of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • Sprinkle of dried rosemary (technical terms…).

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and soften the onions over a medium-low heat for 25-30 mins stirring regularly, until gloriously gooey and awesome. DO NOT LET THEM BROWN/BURN OR IT WILL TASTE LIKE CRAP. They should reduce by about half.
  2. Chuck in half the sugar, crank up the heat a bit , and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just starting to colour. Lower the heat, then add the remaining sugar, a pinch of salt and all the other ingredients.
  3. Simmer, until bubbling away nicely on a medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the chutney has reduced and thickened to a dark caramel colour, stirring occasionally to check it isn’t stuck to the bottom of the pan and completely buggered. If it’s turned to tar too soon, add a little water and leave to reduce again. To test if the chutney is ready, drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan – it should take a few seconds for the juices to re-cover the bottom of the pan.
  4. Spoon the hot chutney into a jar, let it cool fully then bung in to the fridge.

*Actually my own recipe and not one ripped off of someone else for once.

Slices of home made rosemary and sea salt focaccia with a jar of caramelised onion chutney

So there you have it! Freshly baked delicious crisp focaccia with sweet and sticky chutney. Add a chunk of whatever kind of cheese you fancy (but brie is especially good…) in to the equation and that is one happy little snackcident right there. Also try topping a burger or hotdog with the onion chutney at your next back yard isolation bbq for a bit of a taste sensation. You will not regret it!

Happy home cooking folks, and don’t even think about blaming me if you totally screw any of these up.

See you all on the other side when we’re all ready to apply for the next season of Masterchef.

B x

Charlotte Tilbury – my must have products

We all know that I’m the biggest fan of budget beauty and drugstore brands, because let’s face it, there’s nothing like the buzz of those rare occasions when you spend a fiver on a product and discover that it delivers every bit the same quality as it’s high-end alternative. I absolutely love a bargain and will go for the cheaper alternative nine times of of ten if there’s an option, but like most of you I’m sure, I have a weak spot…a crush if you will, and her name is Charlotte.

If the urge to splurge is upon me, Charlotte Tilbury has fast become my go to for true luxury. The high-end price tag is always completely justified, from the quality and powerful efficiency of the ingredients through to the insanely luxe and covetable packaging, in my books, anything CT is guaranteed to please. I am HOOKED.

For those of you (and I doubt there are many) still holding virgin status when it comes to Charlotte Tilbury, I’ve put together my top six must have, can’t live without products to get you started.

Now let’s get one thing straight – this was NOT an easy task because everything Charlotte touches is absolute gold (literally) and there are many other products that I also adore, but these picks have made the list because they’re universal, easy to use and can be incorporated in to anyone’s daily routine – no MUA experience necessary.


THE BASE…

Charlotte’s Magic Cream – 15mls, £25.

Bold statement time – this is probably the best moisturiser I’ve ever used – and believe me when I say that I have tried and tested a LOT of skin care in my time. Seriously though, whether it’s the combination of the eight ‘supercharged’ ingredients’ or some sort of witch-craft, this cream will instantly transform your skin and provide the best base imaginable for applying makeup. Skin feels plumper, smoother and immediately more nourished, plus it’s got SPF too! I can’t stress it enough when I say that I LOVE this product.

Flatlay photo of an open pot of the Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte's Magic Cream

The fabulous thing about shopping at CT is that most products are available in travel sizes which is always a winner for me. With skin as temperamental as mine, there’s nothing worse than forking out a fortune on a product that doesn’t work for you, so this way you can try a smaller size before you buy.

Charlotte’s magic cream is also available in 30mls (£49) or 50mls (£75). I bought this cream as part of the super cute Bright Magic Skin Glow skincare duo set, which bags you the 15ml Magic Cream alongside a full size Brightening youth glow for just £40 – an absolute steal! Speaking of Brightening Youth Glow…

Brightening Youth Glow Primer – 40mls, £39.

While this priming product may seem to be aimed at more mature skin, I’d recommend it for anyone with tired, dull or uneven skin that craves a moisture boost. Packed with some of my favourite ingredients, including rosehip oil and niacinamide, Youth Glow contains a cocktail of skin clearing, radiance revealing beauty faves which will not only give you an immediate glow, but will work improve skin tone over time.

Apply liberally and allow to soak fully in for instantly luminous skin that blurs imperfections and pores, leaving skin ready for flawless foundation application.

Top Tip: The soaking in part is important as I find that applying foundation too soon afterwards can lead to a little separation when the two products mix.

THE FACE…

Airbrush Flawless Foundation – 30mls, £34.

If I had to choose one foundation to wear for the rest of my life, there’s a strong chance that it would be this (Fenty Pro Filt’r is hot on the chase with this one!).

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush flawless foundation in shade 3

Sweatproof, waterproof, basically lifeproof, and good for your skin too..?

Sounds to good to be true right? Well believe it, because this foundation really does have it all. The reason it’s so completely fabulous is that it’s a ‘hybrid’ product, made with both cosmetic finish and being awesome for your skin in mind in equal measures. Airbrush Flawless is infused with ‘Charlotte’s Magic ingredients’, (click the link for the technical jargon) all aimed at refining the skin, minimising pores and wrinkles and boosting hydration.

As for the finish, it’s soft focus, demi matte, weightless and really will last all day. While described as full coverage, personally I’d say it’s more medium – full, but it makes your skin look so good that the coverage is ideal anyway. Fabulously glowy when combined with either the Brightening Youth Glow or the classic Wonder Glow Primer.

Beauty Light Wand Spotlight – 12mls, £29.

It would be plain rude not to include a highlighter in this list and CT has got us covered with the Beauty Light Wand ‘Spotlight’. Super easy to apply thanks to the soft cushion applicator which evenly disperses the liquid product, it’s ideal for dabbing on to the high points of the face and then either simply patting in to the skin with finger tips or gently buffing in with a complexion brush.

The finish is dewy, light reflecting and just bloody gorgeous.

I have this in the shade ‘Candlelit’ which suits my pale skin perfectly. This came as part of the Hollywood Beauty Glow kit (£30) which also includes a 15ml Wonderglow primer, so this is a fab way of saving money and trying out a couple of new products at once, but the Beauty Light Wand is available to buy individually in all six shades (Pillow Talk I’m coming for you next!).

THE EYES…

Eyes To Mesmerise Cream Eyeshadow – 7mls, £22.

Cream eyeshadows…always a bit of a risk, right? I’m always a little dubious of the staying power and resistance to creasing, but when I saw these little babies from CT, I knew it had to be worth a go.

The shade ‘Rose Gold’ instantly caught my eye as it’s been popping up on social media everywhere lately. Guaranteed to not only be awesome for making my dark blue eyes pop, this was sure to be an essential for my kit for use on clients if it delivered what it promised to when it came to wear.

IT DID NOT BUDGE ALL DAY LONG.

The product is a little more sheer than expected given that the promo videos make it look like one effortless swipe gives a full colour pay-off, (but then don’t they always?!) but a couple of layers later and it is simply gorgeous. Easy to blend with either finger tips of a soft crease brush, this product is definitely a winner for me.

THE LIPS…

Pillow Talk Matte Revolution Lipstick – £25.

Ok, it’s time to address the elephant in the room here. Yes I blogged about the Matte Revolution lipsticks before (read the full review HERE) and while I liked them a lot, I didn’t LOVE them, but I’m going to put my hands up and say that I am fully converted, and it’s all thanks to this shade.

Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in the shade Pillow Talk

The iconic Pillow Talk. It’s a worldwide bestseller for a reason.

I always adored this universally flattering shade – like no BS, it suits absolutely everyone, however the reason that it wasn’t a full on knock out for me was that i felt it needed a bit of layering and that it didn’t give me all day wear. HOWEVER… since switching up my lip prep routine and adding the right liner, it’s safe to say that I’m as obsessed with it as the rest of the nation. I mean if it’s good enough for the mighty Jamie Genevieve to wear on her wedding day, it’s good enough for me.

Top Tip: Yes the CT liner is fab and is the obvious choice to pair it up with, but if you’re looking to save a buck or two, the Barry M Lip Liner in shade ‘Russet’ will do the job just as well, and for only £2.99 😉


What are your favourite Charlotte Tilbury products? Leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time,

B x

IN REVIEW – NEW MENU AT THE BOBBIN [gifted]

Scream pubs, as they were formerly known, have always had a special place in my heart, spawning from my days working in one while I was at uni in Leicester. Reminiscing about those good old days always conjures memories of the age old classic, the beer and a burger deal; or ‘pound a pint’ nights where you would down questionable pitchers of warm Fosters on a Wednesday night with your flatmates for a laugh, and turn up at uni the next day feeling rough as hell on a weekly basis.

It’s safe to say that when it came to food, these student bars that we all knew and loved were best known for good honest, cheap and cheerful pub grub at best, but it seems that these days things have evolved a bit, especially at The Bobbin in Aberdeen.

Exterior of The Bobbin, a student pub in Aberdeen

The Bobbin, now housed under the Stonegate Pub Company, is definitely the pub of choice for Aberdeen uni goers, but that isn’t to say that the clientele isn’t varied there, I mean yes there’s the obvious student presence made identifiable by various society logos emblazoned on to the back of hoodies wherever you look, but you’ll also find a mix of locals and visitors alike frequenting just as often.

Usually sister venue The Triple Kirks is our pub of choice when we’re in the mood for some no-frills pub grub, purely down to the convenience of the location, but when I was asked to pop along and check out the new menu at The Bobbin, predictably I jumped at the chance to make the trip to King Street and relive some of my (long gone) uni days and try some tasty food at the same time.

The Menu…

Predicting the usual line up, burgers, fish and chips etc, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the menu really has had quite the revamp. Of course you’ll still find those fab meal and a drink offers that keep the students coming back time and time again, but it really felt like the offerings were somewhat more grown up now. Dare I even say, more sophisticated..?!

Something that I’ve noticed pre-menu change was that they were really upping their game when it comes to vegan and veggie options, so I was over the moon to see that the new menu hadn’t broken the trend and that the offering was more extensive than ever, winner!

Starters/Sharers…

If it’s a choice between starters and deserts, I’m going starter every time, guaranteed, I’m a savoury gal at heart. The only issue can be choosing just one sometimes, so I’m a huge fan of sharers that allow me to get my greedy mitts on the most types of food possible. The Bobbin’s menu now offers a selection of ‘bites’ – small plates ideal for sharing, and at 3 for £9 (or 5 for £14) it would have been rude not to have given a few of these a whirl.

An even bigger plus point is that four out of the eight options available are vegan/veggie, which made for a tough choice given that we’re used to settling for the one lonely meat-free dish in on the vast majority of menus!

Here’s what we went for…

New menu item at the Bobbin Aberdeen, cod goujons with mayo.
Cod goujons with mayo.

Veggie nuggets with sweet chilli sauce, pomagranate, sesame seeds and spring onions. Well I could have eaten just about a hundred of these guys. These crispy little bread-crumbed nuggets, Quorn-like in texture, were an absolute treat. The sweetness of the pomegranate paired with the spiciness of the sauce gave this plate a real kick, and the dish felt light and fresh thanks to the bed of salad. This was a winning plate for sure!

Can we also take a moment to appreciate the presentation of not only this, but all of the plates that were set in front of us? We almost forgot that we were at The Bobbin and not somewhere much more high-end for a moment there!

Jackfruit hash brown bars with Violife cheese and spring onion. Because who doesn’t love hash browns, right? Especially when smothered in vegan favourite of the moment, bbq jackfruit. In my experience, jackfruit can be very easy to get wrong, and I’ve had a several versions in the past that were nothing short of bland and tasteless, However The Bobbin came through yet again with a delicious punchy sauce that offset the hash browns and tangy vegan cheese perfectly. Another winning plate!

Cod goujons with mayo. As much as we eat vegan/veggie about 95% of the time, we stretch to fish on the odd occasion, and on this particular occasion, these cod goujons were calling out to us. Wrapped in crisp, tasty batter, these chunky cod goujons were yet another success, especially with the chilled mayo for dipping. The only thing that would have really topped it off would have been a wedge of lemon to squeeze all over, but I’m really picking at faults here.

It’s safe to say that the starters went down a storm, having left not a single scrap behind, and our expectations for the mains were now suitably raised.

The Mains…

With mains such as the double beef pitstop pie, plant based tikka masala, budha bowls and even and entire mac and cheese section, the menu offers flavours from around the world, but it was the old american classics that drew us in this time, the carb craving was real and had to be satisfied.

Here’s what we had…

Louisiana Chick’n burger with a burger cheese slice, and a side of onion rings. (VG). This sizeable burger was Grant’s choice, but obviously I had to have a taste for the sake of the review… served with fries, this vegan ‘chicken’ burger coated in southern fried spices was tasty, juicy and satisfying, as were the generous portion of crunchy onion rings on the side. Grant went with the ‘Keep it simple’ option – iceberg lettuce, chopped onion and gherkin and vegan mayo, but you can also choose the ‘Smoky soya sloppy joe’ topping – with red pepper and sesame houmous, spinach and cheese, sounds delish!

Moving Mountains hotdog loaded with mac & cheese and angry fries (V/VG). Oh boy…was I beginning to think that my eyes had been bigger than my belly when ordering this gargantuan beast of a hotdog? Absolutely. Was I going to eat every last bite of it anyway because it was just that bloody good?

You know it. Served in a beetroot bun, smothered in creamy mac and cheese and topped with ketchup, mustard and crispy onions, this was quite possibly the best and most authentic tasting meat-free hotdog I’ve had. If there’s one thing I miss since going veggie, it’s a good old fashioned hotdog, but this one ticked every box and could quite easily have been the real thing. Man was I happy! Opting for angry fries (topped with stilton and Franks RedHot sauce, thus making my meal non-vegan) this was a seriously tasty plate of food, and satisfied my junk food craving perfectly.

You meat eaters will be happy to know that a regular pork version is also available, everyone’s a winner!

The Desserts…

Feeling pretty defeated by the large amount of food we had just consumed, but not quite ready to give up altogether, we settled for sharing a dessert, purely for the purposes of research you understand…

Cookie sandwich (V). As much as I wanted to give the mouthwatering vegan option a go – a chocolate salted caramel torte (insert heart eyes emoji here!), I had cookies on the brain so the cookie sandwich won the race. Stuffed between two chocolate chip cookies were layers of peanut butter and Nutella, all drizzled with sweet caramel sauce, it looked a dream. Unfortunately here came my only criticism of the whole meal so far. I’d hazard a guess that this dessert comes pre-assembled and frozen, as I couldn’t physically get my fork to break through the cookie to take a bite, whoops!

Once given time to thaw a little, the combination was sweet and delicious, but I had imagined a warm soft cookie allowing the fillings to melt and ooze out, but guess what, I ate the lot anyway so I really can’t complain too much.

New menu item at the Bobbin Aberdeen, Cookie sandwich with icecream, nutella and caramel sauce.
Cookie Sandwich with peanut butter, nutella & caramel sauce.

All in all this had been a fantastic meal that came so close to being without fault, but one that surpassed my expectations by a mile, so it’s safe to say that we’ll be returning to the Bobbin sooner than is probably reasonable, even if only for that incredible hotdog…

Huge thanks to The Bobbin for having us along to try out the new menu. This meal was gifted but all views are 100% honest and my own.

Until next time,

B x

YOUR CHRISTMAS PARTY OUTFIT MADE EASY – WITH MUST HAVE DRESSES

When it comes to Christmas, there are a few things that can raise the stress levels a little; trailing the crammed shops to find the perfect gifts, the epic task of erecting and decorating the tree just so, and one that I personally find has me pulling my hair out each year – finding the perfect dress for your Christmas night out.

With fast fashion and internet shopping at an all time high, it’s no wonder we see more and more of our local shops and boutiques closing every day, and it’s even less surprising when you show up to the party and three other people have on the same sparkly number that you bagged online for £20 and felt super smug about it. Awkward.

We hear the phrase fast fashion being thrown about more and more these days, but what exactly does that mean? Generally we’re talking about poorly constructed runway knock offs that warrant one or two wears before being stashed in the back of the wardrobe, never to be seen again until the next charity shop clear out.

‘What’s wrong with that you might ask? These garments are cheap? Right?’ They keep you up to date with the latest trends and it’s no big deal when you decide you don’t like them anymore because you only paid £20 for that balloon sleeved sweater, right?’ Then it’s off to the charity shop you go!

It really couldn’t be more wrong. Now I’m not saying that the British highstreet doesn’t have a wonderful and well earned place in today’s fashion market, Topshop, Zara, H&M and beyond all provide incredible gateways for young designers and form the building blocks in their journey towards a more couture based career path, and lord knows even I call upon Primark in times of need, but when did that clothes that for a moment we loved SO much, become so… disposable? 

Why is it that In a world that’s evolving to be more environmentally conscious every day; carrying our hydro flasks to avoid plastic waste, refusing to leave the house without a canvas shopping bag stashed in the bottom of our handbags, that we find it completely acceptable to treat time consumingly stitched, beautiful pieces of clothing as single use items?

If you ask me, we need to start treating our clothes with a little more respect. Hands up if you have a dress hiding in the back of your wardrobe that you’ve worn once to some glam event then never worn again? I know I’ve got a few of those! Well you’re not alone.

Let me give you a few facts…

  • 80 billion pieces of new clothing are consumed each year. How many of those do you think are worn only a handful of times? Global clothing production has doubled over the last 15 years, with garments being worn much less and being discarded much faster. 
  • There are over 40 million garment workers in the world, and the sad reality is that many of them to not share the rights or protections that people in the West do, meaning that they are often not only grossly underpaid, but subjected to poor working conditions. When we buy from stores that mass produce these cheap tems, we are affecting individual people, 85% of whom are women, usually trying to support their families.
  • Clothing made from polyester can take over 200 years to break down, so when we throw last seasons out of trend items away, they don’t just disappear. 
  • And then there’s the environmental factors. The fashion industry’s consumption of resources – like water and oil – is expected to double by 2030. The carbon emissions produced by textile factories are phenomenally high. Pretty scary, right?

So what do we mean when we talk about sustainable fashion? It’s about more than just using recycled materials, or picking up something from your local charity shop now and then. It’s about social change, and adjusting our attitudes when it comes to how we shop. It’s about fighting for workers rights to ensure that they are treated and paid fairly, and it’s about reducing the impact on the planet as much as possible when producing clothing.

There are so many ways that you can shop sustainably these days too, and it doesn’t mean making massive changes, you can start small – like having a quick Google for sustainable fashion brands. You can find local clothes swaps happening in your area where you can swap your unwanted items for someone else’s unloved treasure. We can shop on ebay and Depop where you can find some absolute gems in mint condition, and instead of spending hundreds of pounds on that stunning evening dress that you’re going to wear once then bury in the clothing graveyard.  You can HIRE an amazing dress from somewhere like Must Have Dresses, and dazzle in a gorgeous new outfit, every time you have to glam up, for a fraction of the price. 

Must Have Dresses are a dress hire company who have been flourishing online for some time, and have now opened a premises at 131 Rosemount place. Owner Vish and her team at this fabulous store can take all of the stress out of finding that perfect glitzy outfit without spending a fortune, and more importantly without the waste when that new dress inevitably finds its place at the back of the wardrobe immediately after its debut. 

Must Have Dresses also stock gorgeous jewellery by Varna Breeze

You can visit the store, either by dropping by or by making an appointment, and the lovely ladies at the store will act as a personal shopper, helping you try on and find the perfect showstopper to make sure you are the belle of the ball – and the best bit is, all you need to do is drop it off after the event and they’ll even dry clean it for you too – result! 

Must Have dresses stock unique and independent companies and designers such as Forever Unique, Amanda Wakely, Nadine Merabi and To The Nines, who created the absolute knockout of a dress that I’m pictured wearing below. Literally the fanciest thing I’ve ever worn and I felt like a bloody princess (apart the manky hair and peely wally face…you can’t have it all, right?!).

With a stunning selection of handpicked dresses, there’s something for absolutely any occasion, from floor length sequins for rubbing shoulders with the beau monde at an awards do, to simple and chic two-pieces to attend an elegant wedding. I really can’t think of a single reason not to visit them this festive season.

Check them out at www.musthavedresses.com or on Instagram here.

Until next time,

B x

Aberdeen Art Gallery – the grand reopening. [GUEST]

One of my favourite past times has always been to while away a rainy afternoon wandering round the art gallery, pretending to be a bit cultured and taking in all that it had to offer, especially when a new exhibition was in town. I was a little gutted when it was announced that the gallery was set to close for a three year long massive refurbishment in 2015, and even more gutted when due to several hiccups along the way, it ended up taking until November 2019 to actually open again!

However there was no disputing that a revamp was much needed, and it was exciting to see the progression every time you passed it by, speculating as to how big the changes really would be. With the addition of an entire floor having been built upwards, expectations were pretty high!

I was kindly invited along to a preview evening last Monday ahead of the grand opening on Saturday, and it’s safe to say that my expectations had not only been surprised, but well and truly smashed to pieces as I walked through the doors for the first time in over four years.

The vast spaciousness of the ground floor hits you immediately as you enter; where you once had the gift shop on the left and the cafe on the right, you now have a stunning open plan space housing both the shop and a cafe space, but on opposite sides, with a gorgeous and well considered open plan.

The next thing that you can’t help but notice is the incredible amount of light that pours from the sky light above the newly created top floor. Gone are the days of the art gallery being a dark dingy place that you got dragged to on school trips with a sketch book and some crayons, this is now a venue that is an absolute joy to spend time in. Oh and here’s a fun fact, it’s not actually a sky light at all, it’s formed from LED lighting which mimics natural light and can be changed with the seasons, so there will never be a dull day inside the gallery again, how cool is that?!

There is an open, easy flow from one space to the next, as you pass through the memorial hall in to the next gallery – of which there are now 19 as opposed to the former 11, wow!

With a stunning mix of artwork both old and new, a breath of fresh air has truly been injected in to this Aberdonian institution, giving us absolutely no reason to moan about there being nothing to see or do in our wee grey city, because if you look close enough, it’s actually bursting with colour.

From world renowned works by Monet and Degas in painting and sculpture providing us with classical arts, to brand new photography by the likes of Martin Parr giving us a giggle by passing comment on everyday Scottish culture, there really something for everyone.

There are even fabulous new interactive parts of the gallery to keep the little ones entertained, plus a selection of sketch stations giving them a chance to create mini masterpieces of their own.

The grand re-opening on Saturday the 2nd November saw thousands of inquisitive Aberdonians descend upon the gallery to see what the £35 million project had delivered, and the response has been phenomenal, with one particular talking point being the new roof terrace which provides stunning views of the city centre.

I don’t think that I’m alone in having eyed up this stunning new space as a potential wedding venue… (IF MY OTHER HALF IS READING THIS, TAKE THAT AS A MASSIVE HINT!).

After a wonderful private tour, our evening at the Art Gallery preview was rounded up with some drinks and nibbles (which were all absolutely delish!) at the ground floor cafe, so be sure to stop off there for a bite to eat when you visit.

You can find all of the information you need on the gallery by visiting their website HERE.

Have you managed to go take a peek at our new and improved Art Gallery yet? I’d love to know what you thought so leave a comment!

Until next time,

B x