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30/08/2016

Golden Sands Family Break, Part 1 | YOUTUBE


Last week we headed off to the golden sands of Mablethorpe for a family vay-cay, the whole 16 of us packed up our suitcases for a week away at Haven with each other.  The weather was an utter delight and nothing gave me more pleasure than watching my nieces and nephews running around on the beach enjoying the sand and cool breeze on the sea front.  It was also the first time this year James and I had taken a week off work for a much needed pause on life, we have a few more holidays lined up this year ahead of our holiday pause next year in anticipation of the wedding in 2018 (got to start seriously saving those pennies!).  
Of course whilst we were away I vlogged the break, so click here to be taken to my YouTube channel to watch part 1 or hit play on that embedded video below!  Remember to subscribe if you haven't already!





29/08/2016

Rental Advice and Tips | LIFESTYLE


Happy Monday to you all!  Today we're going to be chatting about the rental market and my top four nuggets of advice for those looking to get into it following my experience.  The property market can be a nightmare when you first get stuck in, but with a little reading and strategising you can hit jackpot quickly and with minimal fuss.
I hope the below are helpful, if you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments!

Know your market
The West Midlands is one of the most robust property markets in the country at the moment, showing an annual growth in rental agreement costs, for this reason it's super important you need to know just what your cash gets you.  When we're looking to move a property our search starts twelve months beforehand, we start perusing online property sites (such as Rightmove and Zoopla) to ascertain how much our desired property type is going for in the area - this gives us an idea of budget to firstly find out if our aspirations of moving into that 7 bed guesthouse are realistic or whether we have to downgrade to a two bed flat for financial reasons.  
Once we have this in our mind, we start to book viewings to get a real feel of the properties.  Anyone can make a photo look good with the right lighting and angle, so visiting the house you've been eyeing up seems a good idea.  After all that, ureka - you've found a property, now it's time to sign those papers and get your keys!

Know your rights
Tenants and landlord rights are a hot topic, make sure you've read up and know where you stand.  However, be careful with a little bit of knowledge - the estate agents will be the experts, challenge if you think they may be pushing their luck or not following the rules, but don't be that hot headed woman screeching at a man in a tartan tie in the estates office about deposit schemes.   

Sometimes the checks are a pain, but its worth it.
Great, you've found your new home - now it's time to make sure that the landlord finds you trustworthy to enter his property.  The endless reams of paper and contracts to sign which always end up in delays moving in may seem a real pain in the backside but would you let someone you didn't know move into your £150,000 house?  
The screening process eliminates the troublesome tenants, so whilst you may your rent on time every month and not keep the neighbours up with your hardcore rock tunes blaring out until 4AM, Joe Bloggs who applied before may have and was denied - leaving you to rent the property.  
Part of most rental agreements also insist of annual or six monthly inspections of the property, these always make me feel like I was being 'checked on' but recent events in my own home have taught me otherwise.  On a recent inspection we flagged up a wet patch on the carpet to our landlord which actually led to a discovery of a much bigger issue of damp underneath our floorboards so it was a good job we reported it! 
Try to see it sunny side up when you're getting frustrated!

It's OK if the shower breaks!
The beauty of being a private tenant is if the boiler goes bang or the roof falls in then you are not responsible for getting it fixed, it's on the landlord.  Most landlords will have insurance on their property (cheap landlord insurance can be found here) and will simply claim for major incidents, you don't need to worry about finding that cash to fix the hole in the roof. 

Hopefully that will help any of you looking to rent on the market soon, as well as if you're looking to buy to let.  Home let have this fab little booklet packed with landlord advice available from today so click here if you would like to read it!  
26/08/2016

Tapas Revolution Birmingham, Review | FOOD



It's another Food Friday and this week I'll be reviewing the newly opened Tapas Revolution in Birmingham Grand Central.  For those of you unfamiliar with the chain, Tapas Revolution is a Spanish restaurant with menus designed and developed by TV chef Omar Allibhoy and has recently won the accolade of 'best Spanish restaurant' at the Birmingham Food, Drink and Hospitality awards this year.  The restaurant are showcasing their new summer menu and invited me along to have a taste of tapas whilst putting them to the test - with such a reputation, how could I not?  




Situated in the food court area of Grand Central station (Birmingham), the restaurant isn't somewhere you would necessarily have thought of to hit for a tasty meal out.  I was dubious at first of how a restaurant could create it's own ambience with the bing bong of train station tannoy voices and rushing commuters during rush hour, however it was overly distracting at all.  The staff greet you with a warm smile and tempting lure of sweet wines, we were seated on a balcony table where we could people watch with our tapas and enjoy a good conversation over a bottle of red.    
In keeping with the Spanish menu, the open restaurant was decorated with hues of mediterranean warm colours and an open glass storage area on the bar, the tables were simple and the condiments effortlessly placed.  I loved the mismatched plate wear, with delicate ditsy patterns and various colours on offer - the cutlery in the empty chopped tomatoes pot was a personal favourite (easily pleased, eh?).





But let's move onto the real stuff, what was the food like?
We ordered 8 plates in two separate intervals, I prefer not to have my tapas in all one go otherwise I feel overwhelmed with the plate options and I also like my food to be piping hot - so a smaller amount of plates to share in one sitting always seems like a better option for me. We ordered a glass of pinot for me and a lemon drink for my companion, then pondered the extensive menu.  
Our lovely waiter forgave our poor pronunciation as we ordered alias de pollo a la meal y lemon (chicken wings in a lemon and honey dressing), torreznos con mojo dulce (crisp pork belly with sweet and spicy sauce) and calamari frites (fried calamari in aioli).  Served in the typical Spanish tapas style, the dishes came out as and when they were cooked for us to tuck into.
The pork belly was tender and sweet with a warmth, the chicken wings were crispy but there wasn't enough lemon for my liking and was more sweet than the tang I was expected and the calamari was crisp, light and to die for.  We seriously considered walking out with a doggy bag of calamari it was that good!




For our second sitting we chose chalets de cordero (roasted lamb chops in spices, served pink), gambas al ajillo (king prawns in garlic and chilli), tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette with potato and onion) and Heuvos roots (baked chorizo with potato in egg).  
The lamb chops were cooked really well, perfectly pink in the middle and in a good amount of sauce - however this wasn't too my taste, for one of the more expensive items on the menu I expected more of a flavour punch.  The king prawns however made up for that, thick, juicy and brimming with chilli flavour - these bad boys made me reach for the water but were so tasty!  The spanish omelette was as good as others I have tasted in the past, but the chorizo with egg was the real winner here - we chose this as a last option, toying between ordering it or another round of calamari.  I'm so glad we did, it was incredible.  Packed with chorizo and potato, the smoked paprika flavour of the meat mixed with the perfectly fried egg and omelette was a taste sensation.  I would order this again and again, a perfect breakfast with a coffee or with a slice of soda bread for lunch - pure perfection and well worth the £5.50 price tag.



This meal would have cost us around £45 plus drinks, so you're looking at around £20-25 a head for a tapas meal here however I would say that 8 dishes was bordering on the indulgent side - we could have easily reduced this to 6 dishes and reduced the cost if desired.  I can't say enough about the staff on site, they were incredibly friendly and helpful - offering hints and tips, their favourite dishes and even a little Spanish lesson if you ask how to pronounce your dishes more effectively!
It may seem odd to travel into Birmingham to eat at the station, it felt alien at first but we loved peering over the balcony with our drinks watching the commuters as well as leaving the restaurant to walk straight into a spot of shopping.  Take away the trains underground and you're effectively in a shopping centre with an upmarket food court!  
If you're pushed for time and can't manage a meal then I would highly recommend stopping by the funky bar for a cocktail whilst you wait for a friend to get off a train.  You won't regret it!

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday:  10:00-21:00
Saturday: 09:00-22:00
Sunday: 10:00-20:00

*Thank you to Tapas Revolution for the invite, I was gifted this meal but all opinions are my own.

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23/08/2016

The Weekly Vlog (25) | YOUTUBE



Homey weekends and hectic week days seem to be becoming common place at the moment in my life, the 9-5 spiced up with odd outing and many appointments so by the time it comes to the weekend I'm often playing catch up or just flaked out!  This weekend was spent playing with puppies, catching up on household chores (snooze!) and giving out makeovers to shy young ladies.  
I'm currently on holiday with my (rather large) family now so there will be a vlog coming very soon with that, for now hit play on that button below or click here to be taken to my YouTube channel.  

Hope you enjoy! See you next week!




19/08/2016

Marley Spoon Box Review | YOUTUBE



Another week, another food box!
Last week I reviewed the Marley Spoon box on the channel, cooking up the fancies and delights planned for me by the nutrition team.  The box typically ranges anywhere between £25-45 per box and promises gastronomically tasty meals for your family in the week.  Click here to be taken to my YouTube channel to watch or hit play on the embedded video below to see what we thought!


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