I’m sure I’m not the only one who carries around more than they need. I am the ultimate over-packer. This is how I usually justify it in my head…
The 3 or 4 pens… Well, in case I have to lend a pen to someone I will need to carry at least 2.
The post-it notepad... You never know when you may run out of paper in your two notebooks or if you need to stick a message onto something (or someone!)
Three lipsticks and two mini perfumes (along with the rest of the makeup)… because I’m indecisive and need options at all times to cater for my mood.
And this is just the half of it. But enough is enough! I have found the solution to this problem – just wear a smaller bag!
I have been on the hunt for an over the shoulder bag for a while now, something not too small (I have plenty already) and one where I still have the option to pack an extra couple of bits. I rejoiced at this beautiful bargain I spotted in Primark last week – it’s only £8!!
I told myself a while ago that I would only buy better quality items, even if that means splashing the cash a bit more, so that I have less clutter in my room. The logic is there, but even after searching on the internet for slightly pricier handbags I still couldn’t find one! And who am I to turn my nose up at a bag of this cost and happens to be just what I’ve been searching for? I’ve worn it everyday since purchase and have kept products to a minimum (trust me, this is minimum). My body even feels better because I’m carrying less weight! The detailing on the bag is pretty and you can even smell the leather, so you are getting a great quality bag for your bucks.
The bare essentials…
Red purse from H&M… It’s small enough to carry around a bit of cash and a few cards
Revlon Colorstay lipstick… Just the one!
Cath Kidston compact mirror
Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara… The cheaper dupe for Benefit’s Roller Lash!
Fresh compact powder in Seventh Veil (no longer available, sigh!)
Hugo Boss Jour Pour Femme perfume
A small bag of almonds… Perfect for snacking on when you’re craving something sweet.
Red Valentina leather notebook
Pen from Paperchase
Soap & Glory hand sanitiser
You can wear it from day to night too, great for if you’re out all day! They also stock a tan shade too, if you’re more of a brown bag kinda gal!
What bag are you wearing this Spring?
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When I was approached by Jamie’s Italian a couple of weeks ago to review their restaurant here in Cheltenham, I leaped at the chance. As a lover of Italian food and a fan of Jamie Oliver’s I was looking forward to sampling some authentic cuisine with the rustic touches I know it is famous for.
We had a table booked for 7.30 on Tuesday evening and as we arrived on the dot we were greeted with a friendly smile within seconds of stepping through the door, I stated my name and we were swiftly taken to our table. The room was filling up slowly so it had a lively yet relaxed environment, perfect for a couple of friends catching up for the evening (nothing worse than having to shout above the noise to be heard).
The restaurant is a former County Court with original features including the jury box and judges’ table, it’s a pretty impressive place to eat your lunch or dinner – whether you are dining with friends or family, it’s a fun experience for all ages. Situated in the centre of town with bars and restaurants including Bills, Copa and Slug and Lettuce on the one side and the Everyman Theatre on the other, it’s a great location and easy to find.
Once we were comfortably seated and our coats were kindly hung up for us, our waitress for the evening brought over the menus and took our drinks order. We decided on a carafe of Sauvignon Blanc to wet our appetite and were well informed about the Specials dishes. We studied the menu and decided on sharing two starters – the Cured Meats Plank for one and the Artisan Bread Basket.
The plank boasts four types of cured meat, including fennel salami, aged prosciutto, piccante and mortadella. Served with a mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino (thin crisp music bread) and chilli jam, a wonderful selection of pickles and olives and a delicious helping of kale slaw. Laid out on two tins, an idea Jamie himself picked up during a stay in Italy, the food was at eye level to us so it was much easier to see the contents on the plank aside from looking extremely well presented.
The bread selection was the perfect accompaniment, with homemade focaccia, ciabatta, sourdough, crackerbread and grissini sticks – served with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic and a tasty olive tapenade.
The flavours of the bread, meat and accompaniments together were fantastic and I couldn’t fault any part of it, aside from there wasn’t enough kale slaw – it was delicious!
We chose to order our mains once we had consumed our starters, the menu has such variety we just couldn’t decide! After a lot of ‘umming and ahhing’, we eventually chose The Jamie’s Italian Burger with a side of Funky Chips and the Lamb Chops Scottaditta.
When our mains arrived we were impressed with the presentation, especially with the lamb chops. My friend was given a separate plate to dish up the meal her own way, which included a flavoursome trio of herby red onions, toasted nuts and yoghurt with a side of posh polenta chips. I sampled a mouthful of the lamb and it was tender and flavoursome, something I would definitely opt for next time.
The beef burger was delicious! With the mortadella, balsamic onions, tomato and smoked mozzarella (I removed the pickles and chillies), the combined flavours worked perfectly together. The rosemary and garlic chips were incredible, chunky and fluffy on the inside, the perfect chip – they are extremely garlicky though, so perhaps not the best choice if you’re on a date…
I couldn’t finish all of my meal as it was so filling but that’s not a reflection on the food, just my small stomach. I always regret leaving anything behind, and an hour later I was craving those chips again!
We resisted dessert, as much as we were eyeing up the Epic Brownie, I opted for a cappuccino instead to round up our lovely evening. I was impressed that the cup of coffee tasted so authentic, it was like being back in Italy.
Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable and efficient, continuously informing us throughout the evening on the food and thoughts behind the presentation of the courses which was a really nice touch to the experience. A far cry from your usual Italian restaurants, Jamie’s is a warm and inviting dining experience for most foodies.
You can check out the menu here and book a table for yourself – there is even an easy way to choose your meals according to your dietary requirements!
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Last week one of my girlfriends suggested going to The Vine for dinner, somewhere I had never been before in Cheltenham but had heard plenty of great reviews about.
The restaurant has a pub vibe which gives it a very laid back and relaxed environment. It was around 6.30pm and it was already starting to get busy so I would definitely advise booking a table in advance. We happened to grab a table on a whim towards the back of the room so it was slightly quieter. We sat down and perused the menu, Sidonie had been before so I asked her to recommend dishes (she knows I’m a wimp when it comes to heat and spice). There was a 2 courses for £7.50 special offer so we decided on doing that and ordered a couple of extra starters to share too. You have to make your order at the bar so if you prefer table service, this probably isn’t the restaurant for you.
Wine and spicy prawn crackers set the evening off to a good start.
We had a giggle and a gossip whilst we waited on our starters, but we didn’t have to wait long which I was impressed with. We had ordered the vegetable spring rolls and prawn toast as part of the specials deal, as well as the Thai pork dumplings. Served with a small salad, each dish was delicious and the flavours tasted ‘authentic’ – something that is promised in the menu. The dim sum were my particular favourite, but I have my eye on trying the Thai fishcakes next time!
Onto the next course!
The menu boasts a huge variety of dishes to choose from so it took some time trying to decide. I have wanted to try the Pad Thai with chicken for a long time and I’m always tempted by it when I see it on the menus in other restaurants. Sid chose the Thai green curry, which she requested to be ‘mild’ as opposed to hot that it was labelled as. Unfortunately the chef didn’t get the memo and it came out packed with a lot of heat! Luckily the portions are large and I shared some of my meal with Sid – one of the perks of ordering food you both enjoy.
We both have a sweet tooth so had to order a pudding each, naughty but nice! I chose the chocolate fudge cake and Sidonie chose Glouy tod, Banana fritters in coconut and sesame seed batter, drizzled with honey served with vanilla ice cream – yum!
Here are Sid’s thoughts on The Vine...
I always enjoy going to The Vine – I like the atmosphere, music, candles etc. It’s good for meals with the boyfriend or an evening with friends. I usually get the Thai fish cakes because they are light and delicious, but the Dim Sum was lovely! They could hold on the red chilli in the Thai green curry but apart from that it’s an affordable restaurant for everyone.
As it’s Valentine’s Day coming up, I would recommend it for a first date as it’s not too formal and the lighting, service and music is perfect!
The whole experience overall was good, and I would highly recommend it to others. I’m looking forward to visiting again soon to taste more of the menu, there is something for everyone! You can check out The Vine’s restaurant and menu here – let me know if you take a visit!