What to do in Liverpool during December

Hello? Is this thing on?

It’s me, Chanel, the girl who used to write on this blog quite a lot. Yep, that’s the one. Well I’m back and before you all think I’ve given up completely on blogging, I haven’t. In fact, I’m really inspired to take my blog to new levels in the new year, especially now I have a car and a bucket load of new found freedom!

At the start of the month, me and a few of my gal pals took a trip to Liverpool to get into the Christmas spirit and scope out the markets. We did Edinburgh in 2017, so it was only fair we tried a new city to see what they had to offer.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

First thing I will say about Liverpool’s Christmas Market is…if you’re going specifically for the markets, choose a different city. Although, Liverpool does offer a handful of stalls and two mini bars, the scale of the market was tiny in comparison to Edinburgh, Manchester and London’s Winter Wonderland. However, if you live near the area it’s probably worth a pop in to see all the independent sellers for one-off gifts.

ACCOMODATION 

We found the most perfect little apartment on the docks of Liverpool to house the 5 of us during our stay and I couldn’t recommend it more. Located right next door to the Echo Arena (perfect if you’ve got a gig lined up) and a stones throw away from Albert Docks, the apartment had everything we needed and more. An amazingly charming host, Dave, who greeted us on arrival to show us about and the fridge stocked with essentials all for or own use. The tv even had Netflix if you decided on a cosy night in. I’ll leave the link here for anyone who’s searching for the perfect place to stay.

FOOD

As we were self catering we were searching all the time for great places to eat. However, Liverpool, especially in December gets VERY busy at night and you may want to reserve your table in advance to avoid any let downs. On the first night, we ate at a restaurant on the Albert Docks called What’s Cooking? which we all found did a fab range of foods to suit even the fussiest members of the group. The food was delicious and we all left feeling well fed and looked after!

We also ate breakfast at the cutest little cafe next to the Liverpool Lime Street station called Key Lime Coffee, which again served an assortment of meals from breakfast, brunch and lunch. If you have a chance, pop in and try their breakfast fully loaded omelette it’s the bee’s knees!

 

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Cocktails at What’s Cooking?

DRINK AND PARTY

As pretty much newbies to Liverpool, we really had no idea where to start looking for places to dance the night away. We had a few recommendations from friends and as Liverpool has so many options for clubs and bars we felt a tad overwhelmed.

On the first night, we decided to keep it lowkey and stick to bars rather than full on clubs. From the get-go we wanted to visit the Peaky Blinders bar. As fans of the show we were pretty excited about all the hype we’d seen online earlier in the year. However, if you’re going to go to the PB bar…don’t expect Cillian Murphy to be there to greet you with his finest G+T. The bar was ok, there was some live music which was good but the decor was a bit sparse if anything. It’s the type of place which felt like it had been rushed and not much thought had been put into it and really only for the purpose of making a bit of money of the back of a popular TV show. It was a completely different experience to the Breaking Bad bar I wrote about in July. Although, the area which the bar was set had quite a few novelty bars, including a Yellow Submarine which might be fun for someone looking to take their mates somewhere a bit different!

When we were all dolled up on the second night and ready for something a bit more dancey, we hit the city centre. We went to a tiny little tequila bar called Bar CaVa where they sell assorted and wacky flavours of tequila for only £1 a shot. The perfect place for pre drinking, and to prank your mates into drinking baked bean flavoured tequila (sorry for telling you it was passionfruit, Ellen).

A short stumble from Bar CaVa is Concert Square, a place we had all been told about from other friends who’d visited the city before. Here, you can choose between a number of different bars/clubs in the square and if you fancy a sit down, they have a huge outdoor seating area where you can hire shisha.

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Peaky Blinders Bar

THINGS TO DO

For the longest time, I wanted to go to the British Music Experience after I’d heard about the installment at The O2 in London. When I was searching for things to do in Liverpool, I seen the Experience had now moved to Liverpool and immediately notified my friends that I’d be going to see it whether they wanted to or not. To my suprise, they all wanted to come and we had the best time looking around the museum at the history of British music, admiring genuine costumes worn by the likes of Freddie Mercury and the Spice Girls. To top it all off, we even had a go at playing our own musical instruments and had a whirl in a recording booth. We sounded horrific but the Experience was great and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in music.

Shopping. Shopping. Shopping. If there’s one place that’s an absolute gold mine for finding everything you need for Christmas it’s the sheer amount of shops available to browse in Liverpool.

Of course, there’s the typical tourist Beatles experiences such as the Cavern Club, which is well worth a look if you’ve never been, and the plethora of Beatles museums dotted around the city.

That’s all I have for you on Liverpool,

If you’ve never been then it’s definitely worth a visit and the locals are very welcoming and helpful if you need advice or directions!

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

 

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Viking Digital Photography Masterclass with Elouisa Georgiou

Hello,

In a week full of firsts: England winning their first ever penalty shootout at a World Cup, the first ever successful double hand transplant in the UK and the first time Georgia had her heartbroken on national TV show, Love Island (we love you gal!). I attended my first ever blogging event!

With only starting my blog at the beginning of the year, I was absolutely overjoyed when I received an email inviting me to a bloggers event in Newcastle. Me? Little Nel? Getting an invite to mingle with other bloggers and learn useful tips? I’m there!

I’m not going to lie…I was bricking it. I spent the week running up to the event worrying about feeling the odd one out, panicking that no one would like me and the biggie, I knew no one on a personal/friendly level. However, when I arrived at the venue, I bumped into Ruby and Helena, who were more than lovely and allowed me to tag along with them.

The lovely team at Viking teamed up with professional photographer Elouisa Georgiou to create a Digital Photography Masterclass at The Botanist. A gorgeous venue, that was ideal for us bloggers who love a good picturesque environment! The masterclass was based around teaching us how to look more carefully at camera settings, lighting and the ways we can alter aspects of a set up to get the prime shot.

Firstly, as we all sat with complimentary prosecco in hand (massive brownie points to the genius behind the free booze), Elouisa talked us through some of the basics of manual photography, an area that was completely alien to me as I usually just stick my camera on auto and hope for the best. Talking about ISO, aperture and shutter speed, it allowed us to get a sense of how to change our settings depending on the light, the motion of the subject and shooting products in the foreground and background.

After the talk, we were encouraged to try some of the things we’d been taught for ourselves. Chatting to fellow bloggers Niamh, Rachael, and Cat, we soon found out that none of us really had any idea how to use our cameras or where to even begin.

The first task we had were flatlays. I think most bloggers dream of having dreamy flat lays of beautiful products and food but the reality is, it’s a faff if you don’t know what you’re doing and can’t get a nice result. Elouise really helped with understanding how to frame the photos and how to use my camera to increase the quality of the shot. I’ll definitely be giving flatlays for of a go with my newfound flatlaying confidence!

We also played about with bounce boards and prisms to manipulate light and eradicate shadows. I’d honestly never thought about adding different textures and light flares to my images to make them more interesting, but after having seeing some of the other bloggers photography with the use of prisms, I’ll be trying it out!

Once we’d had our fun, we all sat down for some delicious food and a cocktail on the house whilst our photos were being printed for Elouisa to judge. I loved hearing all the different conversations of how varied people’s lives are but we all found our way to blogging as a hobby and outlet.

Elouisa then chose her winner of the photography competition, it was time to say goodbye! We were all given a tips and tricks sheet running over everything that had been said so we could practise at home and we even got given a tripod as a pressie!

Thank you to Viking and Elouisa for the invite and being so welcoming.

I had the best night with lovely people in a gorgeous surrounding and learned so much about photography and camera settings that I hope and pray can help me improve my photos. Watch this space!

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

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Mannaza Korean BBQ, Newcastle

Hello, Hi, Welcome,

So this week on the blog I decided to try writing a little foodie post as I’m always looking for new and different eating experiences to test out. At the weekend, my friend and I decided we wanted to see if anywhere in the North-East offered a Korean BBQ dining experience as we had both  learned about Korean BBQ through tv shows and online videos.

If you don’t know what Korean BBQ is, it’s basically where you cook chosen meats on a grill which is placed on your table at the restaurant. It’s a little different than just sitting down for a regular meal and it’s a huge phenomenon in Korea for social meetings.

Upon our search, we found Mannaza, a Korean restaurant which provides the barbeque cooking style we so badly wanted to try. Located just next to Blackfriars, the restaurant is easy to find and as it’s close to The Gate, it’s only a short walk to bars and the cinema if you’re looking to add more to your night.

Inside, the restaurant is a nice size. Not too big, not too small and has a friendly, warming atmosphere. We booked our table because I was unsure just how popular a Saturday night could get at Mannaza and I’m glad we did as there was a handful of people waiting for a table and we walked straight in to our reserved table.

The menu is extensive! There’s pretty much something for everyone, from vegetarians to seafood-lovers (I even spied that they serve octopus). It’s pretty simple to decipher as they have a ‘Self-Grill’ column which lets you know what options you can choose for the Korean BBQ dining. If you fancy something from the menu but don’t feel like cooking it yourself, there is the choice to have it cooked by the chef so don’t fret if the idea of self-grill is a bit daunting!

We went for the set menu for 2, which included a starter of dumplings (which were already cooked for us and delicious), a tray of marinated raw chicken (Yangnyeomdak-Gui) and a tray of marinated raw beef slices (Bulgogi) to cook on the grill, a side of kimchi and a side of spinach alongside 2 portions of sticky rice. All together I think the food came to £28.00 which we thought was pretty reasonable for what you were given.

When it came to the time for us to grill our meats, we were a little hesitant on how long we had to cook the slices for and if there was a desired ‘look’ for the dish we were meant to be grilling without completely burning the living daylights out of it. The slices of meat are sliced thinly for quick cooking and I cook quite regularly so I shouldn’t have been so worried about poisoning the both of us but I really am not equipped with any BBQ knowledge.

We managed to get the hang of it after the first few tester bits of meat (we literally cooked on bit at a time just to see what would happen) and ended up throwing the remainder of the meat all on the grill. If not a tiny bit stressful, it provided a boat load of giggles and a lot of fun and the end food product was absolutely delicious and filling!

I noticed on the menu that they also serve Korean wines and Sake, but we just went for the typical Pinot Grigio and Merlot to calm our anxiety after the hilarious food encounter.

I would highly recommend this restaurant if you’re looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary to try out! The prices are reasonable, the staff were helpful and the experience was great. I’d like to take a bigger group of friends next time just to see how we all cope. We also didn’t give ourselves food poisoning, hurrah!

Have you tried Korean BBQ or had any other fun dining experiences?

I hope you enjoyed reading and I’ll see you soon,

Chanel

x

The Struggle of Losing Weight and Keeping Fit

Hello!

I’m back today with a more lifestyle/health based post, talking about how difficult I find it to lose weight and keep fit. Like many of us, I’ve been trying for years to get my body into shape, with every new year resolution being ‘lose weight’ or ‘go to the gym more regularly’. It goes well for all of a week before I find myself saying what the hell and eating my body weight in rubbish!

I’ve tried FAD diets such as ‘The Soup Diet’ where I ate soup, fruit and veg for almost a week straight in a hurry to drop a few pounds and although it did work and I felt great, it seemed even easier than ever before to put the weight straight back on and I’d be back to square one. I wouldn’t recommend FAD diets, they’re only good for quickly losing weight and there is no way it can be good for your body, in fact most FAD diets require a GP consultation before investing your time in the plan. Not only can it be a danger to your health but because you’ve eaten unrealistically for the week (it’s more a detox than a diet) then as soon as you’re back to introducing normal foods into your meals, the weight jumps back on.

Next thing is…exercise. Booo.

I used to be a huge fan of physical activities. Running, dancing, badminton, anything that would get my moving I enjoyed. However, as the responsibilities of life get in the way, I stopped exercising and instead would spend my time in front of the TV or my laptop and snacking!

The worst time for this was uni, I was eating unhealthy and the only exercise I would get would be walking to and from a lecture or busting all the moves on the dancefloor on a Wednesday night!

About a year ago, I vouched to myself that I’d lose weight to try and keep my mind and body healthy. I lost 8 pound within a few months and I’ve managed to stay the same weight ever since. I’m still not happy with my body and I want to try and lose another stone and a half to get down to what weight my BMI suggests is a healthy weight for my height and age.

I’ve started going to the gym twice a week with my friend to do some of the classes (legs, bums and tums is NOT an easy one). I’ve also started running once or twice a week too and hopefully I’ll start to feel a little better about my fitness and not get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs!

My goal at the end of all this is to ultimately be happy and feel like a 21 year old!

Fresh, fit and fabulous!

Another big goal for me is to wear shorts in the summer without tights as my legs are my main body hatred and I always try to hide them away.

If you have any tips for weight loss or fitness plans then please let me know.

Do you enjoy exercise? If so, did you have to learn to love it?

To read my previous post click here

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

x

 

Tomato Soup Cupcakes Recipe

Happy Easter!

Over the last few days my social media feeds have been brimming with baking goodies, from Easter mini egg cakes to Creme Egg brownies and I’ve definitely been bitten by the bake off bug.

Instead of going with the traditional recipes, I decided to try something a little bit different and I spotted this Tomato Soup Cupcake recipe in my The Hummingbird Bakery book and thought why not give it a go.

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in The Hummingbird Bakery ‘Life is Sweet’ book

I know what you’re all thinking…that is disgusting Chanel, why would you even want to eat such a monstrosity! However, the book describes the taste as a ‘kind of carrot-cake’ flavour and I completely agree, you can definitely taste the slightly spiced resemblance.

Here is what you’ll need:

Ingredients

Cupcakes: 

  • 115g (4oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 285g (10oz)  Caster Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 270g (9 1/2oz) Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 60ml (2oz) Water
  • 295g (10 1/2oz) Tin of Condensed Cream of Tomato Soup
  • 18 muffin cases

Frosting:

  • 100g (3 1/2oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 240g (8oz) Full-fat Cream Cheese, cold
  • 400g (14oz) Icing Sugar
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling on top!

The recipe says it makes 18 but I managed to get 21 out of the batch and was left over with loads of icing too!

STEP ONE:

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F)/ Gas mark 4

STEP TWO:

  • Line the muffin tin with the muffin cases

STEP THREE:

  • Use a freestanding mixer with paddle attachment or a hand held electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy (the recipe recommends mixing for 5 minutes on a medium-high speed)

STEP FOUR: 

  • Pop the eggs in one at a time, on a lower speed and making sure you have all the mix from the side of the bowl

STEP FIVE:

  • In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients (plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, allspice, cinnamon and cloves) and then mix into the wet ingredients. The recipe says to mix on a low speed but I thought my mixer’s lowest speed was still too fast so I just used a wooden spoon to mix.

STEP SIX:

  • Add the water and the condensed soup to form a batter (the smell is extremely strange and off putting so bare with it)

STEP SEVEN: 

  • Spoon the mixture into the cases until about 3/4’s full and bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool when on a wire rack.

 

LEAVE TO COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE PUTTING ON THE FROSTING OTHERWISE IT’LL JUST SLIDE AND MELT OFF.

STEP EIGHT:

  • To make the frosting, beat the butter and then add the cream cheese and icing sugar. Mix slowly to begin with otherwise the sugar will spill everywhere. Then mix on high speed for three minutes to create a creamy texture.

STEP NINE:

  • Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon.
The final product

These cupcakes are delicious and not dry at all, I was worried when mixing in the soup that the consistency looked too thick but they baked beautifully and have been gobbled up by my family.

Special thanks to Tarek Malouf for making this inventive recipe which was definitely an experiment as well as a baking venture. You can check out his website here or you can purchase The Hummingbird Bakery, “Life is Sweet” recipe book here.

If you want to read my previous blog post you can find it here

Thanks for reading!

Chanel

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